- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 3, 2002

The U.S. Park Police and the Metropolitan Police Department will have the city under camera surveillance tomorrow to enhance security for the Fourth of July.
Sgt. Scott Fear, a Park Police spokesman, said yesterday that his department also had installed temporary cameras but would not say, citing security concerns, when they would be activated.
Most Independence Day events fall under Park Police jurisdiction, D.C. police officials said, but Park Police will be using the Metropolitan Police Department's more integrated and sophisticated camera system.
Members of the American Civil Liberties Union have decried surveillance cameras as an invasion of privacy and say the devices have no place in a celebration of America's freedom.
"The use of the cameras for this occasion is inappropriate," Stephen Block, an attorney for the ACLU, said yesterday. "We should not be spying on people who are doing nothing more than engaging in their First Amendment rights."
D.C. police will activate the cameras in the Joint Operations Command Center, which is designed to deliver real-time information to D.C. police officers on the scene. Officers there can watch footage from 12 surveillance cameras downtown.
The center will be staffed tomorrow by several federal and local agencies, including the FBI, Secret Service, U.S. Capitol Police, U.S. Marshals Service, Coast Guard, Fairfax County Police and the D.C. fire department.
Park Police also will be watching the temporary cameras on monitors at the Central District Station in East Potomac Park, Sgt. Fear said.
The cameras are just one part of heightened security measures planned for Fourth of July festivities on the Mall, which drew an estimated 500,000 people last year.
D.C. police Chief Charles H. Ramsey said yesterday on WTOP's "Ask the Chief" radio program that the department would have all 3,600 officers on duty.
His department is providing about half of the roughly 2,500 officers from the region who will be working downtown.
Police from more than 16 jurisdictions will be helping with traffic and crowd control, manning security checkpoints and conducting plainclothes surveillance.
The National Park Service is securing the area with about 10 miles of wood-slatted snow fencing.
People celebrating the holiday will be allowed onto the Mall through 24 checkpoints, where their personal items will be inspected to ensure they aren't carrying weapons, alcohol, firecrackers, grills, glass bottles or other dangerous items.
The Office of Homeland Security this week has changed the nation's threat level to "elevated yellow," meaning no specific threat has been made but that the chance of a terrorist attack has increased.
D.C. police officials said yesterday the increased surveillance was a protective measure, not a response to the new threat level.
"We operate it as we see fit for large events of importance," said Sgt. Joe Gentile, a D.C. police spokesman.
Sgt. Gentile said the department follows its own standards and uses the federal Office of Homeland Security's color code only as a guide.
The cameras at the command center have been used several times this year to observe protests and demonstrations in public places, including those in front of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in April.
The National Park Service, which oversees the Park Police, plans to have its own closed-circuit television surveillance system set up by the fall to monitor all of the national, presidential and war memorials. The nearly $3 million project was in the works before the September 11 attacks.


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