Columbia committee recommends more cameras for hospitality areas

Photo Credit: Adam Pinsker

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WACH) -- The City of Columbia's Public City Committee is moving fast in an effort to add more surveillance cameras to certain areas of the city.

The committee recommended Tuesday spending $100,000 in surplus and hospitality funds to place 25 more cameras in Five Points, the Vista, and the Harbison areas. The money would also go toward a system that would connect the cameras to a 24-hour monitoring station.

Councilman Sam Davis attached an amendment to the recommendation for an immediate search for additional funding to place cameras in other neighborhoods.

There are already at least 75 security cameras in Five Points which are operated by businesses. Some of those cameras have been donated by a private security firm. The Five Points Association says the city should pay for the additional cameras because police frequently use the footage to solve crimes.

Privacy rights supporters say there are already too many cameras in the area. They also wonder if the public will have access to the footage if the cameras are funded by taxpayers.

"If the cameras are owned and operated by the government, then there is a restriction on what the government can do to collect information," explains USC Media Law Professor Jay Bender. "But generally what you do in public is open for inspection by anyone."

Do you think more cameras are the answer to crack down on crime, or do you believe this is an invasion of privacy?

(The Associated Press contributed to this story.)