To protect, serve, and constantly monitor

Last October, the L.A. City Council, lead by Councilman Eric Garcetti, proposed installing five surveillance cameras on Hollywood Blvd., with 59 more to follow on Hollywood, Sunset, Santa Monica, and Western. According to an LAPD spokesman at the time: "people are ready to feel more secure in their communities. I think they are willing to give up a little bit ... for more security."

On January 24 2005, the cameras arrived [PDF version]:

Mayor Jim Hahn was joined today by Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton, and City Councilmembers Eric Garcetti and Tom LaBonge to unveil the first of five surveillance cameras that will supplement and enhance Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) efforts to reduce crime and increase the quality of life for residents and visitors to the Hollywood Area...

..."Our two cities are committed to sharing strategies and techniques to deter criminals and improve the quality of life of all our residents," said Mayor Daley. "Cameras are the equivalent of thousands of sets of eyes..."

..."Cameras have already met with great success in Los Angeles," said Councilmember Eric Garcetti. "This neighborhood has fought its way back to become L.A's number one place to live, work and visit. These cameras will give Hollywood added security and make residents and visitors feel safer..."

But, that's not the only new camera system the LAPD is working on:

The Los Angeles Police Department is testing a camera system that could improve its chances of arresting car thieves.

The system uses mobile digital cameras to scan up to two thousand license plates per hour and compare them to a database of stolen vehicles. The scans offer virtually instantaneous results, meaning an officer is alerted the moment the system focuses on the plate of a vehicle that has been reported stolen.

Police first tested the device in the San Fernando Valley during the busy Christmas shopping season...

A longer story about this, including ACLU quotes and some backstory of surveillance cameras, is in "Cameras after gangsters". It includes these quotes from LAPD Chief Bill Bratton:

"I'm not worried about [privacy arguments] at all," he said. "It's public spaces -- just as you and I are able to see with our eyes.

"If you're not wanted for something, you have nothing to fear."

The press release from the British company that's supplying the Platescan technology is here.

Inventive readers are invited to speculate on how we could be even safer. See also the Surveillance Camera Players.