Councilman proposes installing surveillance cameras in Newport

A Newport city councilor hopes his resolution would put surveillance cameras across major streets in the city. (WJAR)

A Newport city councilor hopes his resolution would put surveillance cameras across major streets in the city.

Councilman John Florez said he believes the cameras will not only help solve crimes, but prevent them.

"We're trying to make our city a safer place for its citizens and tourists alike," said Florez.

To make that happen, Florez will be submitting a plan to the Newport City Council on Wednesday. The resolution would put cameras in the city's major business district along Thames Street and Broadway.

Florez said the cameras would be beneficial to police when it comes to prosecuting crimes.

For example, 28-year-old Kyle Kettner was left in a coma after he was attacked in January while walking on Bliss Road, which is off Broadway.

However, several people told NBC 10 News that the whole camera idea sounded a little too "Big Brother" to them.

"We should all feel free that we can do whatever we want whenever we want," Vanna Nouv said.

But while it might be uneasy for some to have the cameras rolling, NBC 10 News Legal Analyst Mark Dana said it's legal.

"There's no expectation of privacy in those public areas," Dana said. "So, it's perfectly lawful to do it provided that you're not, that these cameras are not peering into private establishments and things of that nature."

If approved, the resolution would give the city administration, city manager, and police department 90 days to figure out how to fund the program.

Then, the plan would be brought once again to the council for a vote.

"The objective here is not to use tax payer money," said Florez. "We're trying to get very creative. There are certain forfeiture funds from the police, for example, that we are exploring."

Dana also noted that there has been a reduction in crime not because of the increase in surveillance cameras, but because more people are carrying smart phones.

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