Clark County Sheriff Bill Young called on local gaming companies Friday to install and pay for a surveillance system on the Las Vegas Strip.
Surveillance cameras can help solve crimes and break up terror rings, but they are controversial.
Sophisticated camera networks are already up and running in major cities like London and Chicago. It was surveillance video that helped to identify the terrorists on September 11th.
Last year authorities in London used surveillance video to help solve the case of the subway bombings. Yet there is currently no unified camera network along the Las Vegas Strip, and Sheriff Young says it’s time for a change.
Sheriff Young said, „Provide an area-wide safety net of video surveillance out into the streets. So in other words, extend what the casino industry already has in their infrastructure and, by adding several cameras at many of the properties, I think we can pretty much cover the majority of our tourism corridor.“
The sheriff wants full video coverage along Las Vegas Boulevard from Russell Road to Sahara.
He wants all cameras installed on private property and fed into a central monitoring station.
„In other words, the cameras are owned by them, it’s part of a system that they own — that they manage — and they run it at their discretion. They call the police or provide us the information we need much like they do in London,“ Sheriff Young continued.
But the American Civil Liberties Union says such a plan, in private hands, has big problems.
Gary Peck, with the ACLU of Nevada, said, „But at least if it was being run by law enforcement professionals in the public sector there would be some modest degree of confidence in the ability to properly monitor and insure that those programs are not being used in impermissible ways.“
The sheriff says a private consultant estimates it would take about 120 cameras and USD 3 million to get this project in place. That price does not include ongoing operational costs.
Sheriff Young wants this project started now, even though he is leaving office. „We need to be the safest tourist destination in the world. Not just in America, in the world,“ he commented.
What do Las Vegas gaming companies think?
In a statement, Harrah’s says: „Harrah’s is absolutely committed to improving public safety and we look forward to hearing more details from the sheriff.“
In a statement, MGM-Mirage says: „We always welcome law enforcement seeking to find ways to improve public safety. We will await the details of the sheriff’s proposal.“
The sheriff says he plans to send a letter to the CEO‘s of the casinos on the Strip next week. He will then present the plan in person at a meeting of casino security chiefs in September.
How is this system different than other cities like London and Chicago?
The Chicago system is a 100-percent public system paid for with homeland security grant money while the London system is a public-private partnership with some public cameras and some private cameras.