San Francisco discusses security following Boston

May 2, 2013 10:21:20 PM PDT
How safe is San Francisco and what more could be done to keep the city secure in the aftermath of the Boston bombings? A hearing was held Thursday at City Hall about the local plans for the next big event.

San Francisco holds at least 300 large scale events every year, from the Chinese New Year's parade to Pride. Keeping them safe is always a challenge

In light of the Boston bombings, Supervisor Eric Mar is asking for a review of security measures.

"This is a city that believes in protection of privacy and civil liberties, but we have to balance that with public safety," he said.

A new Time Magazine/CNN poll asked Americans if they were willing to give up civil liberties if necessary to curb terrorism; 49 percent said no and 40 percent said yes.

This month's Bay to Breakers race will be the first example of San Francisco's "new normal" for handling events where the threat level is now higher in the aftermath of Boston. Police Chief Greg Suhr says uniformed personnel will be beefed up about 25 percent, but that's just the beginning.

"Bomb technicians will be on site, we'll have dogs there for early detection, we're deploying our academy classes, our lateral officers that we get from other places, our mounted will be out, our dirt bikes, our big motorcycles will be out," he said.

And cameras on poles that were borrowed for the Giants World Series parades will be used again. The chief also wants a survey to determine exactly where and how many mounted cameras are running along the main thoroughfares.

There are already cameras up and down Market Street, some operated by businesses, some by the city. But there are also blind spots.

That Time Magazine/CNN poll found 81 percent of Americans surveyed approved of expanding camera surveillance in public places. But the American Civil Liberties Union says evidence shows cameras don't prevent crime.

"As a general matter there are cheaper alternatives like increased street lighting which is less violation of privacy, cheaper and more effective in reducing crime," ACLU spokesperson Linda Lye said.

Still she and others commends the city for gathering information about security measures and having an open dialogue.


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