City-owned surveillance cameras banned in Northampton

The Northampton City Council voted 7-2 Wednesday night to override Mayor David Narkewicz's veto on their ordinance

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP)- City-owned surveillance cameras are banned in Northampton.

The Northampton City Council voted 7-2 Wednesday night to override Mayor David Narkewicz’s veto on their ordinance restricting surveillance cameras downtown. The vote came four months after heated debate between community members and city officials.

“They do certainly help and I think do contribute to public safety, but I think there needs to be some clear parameters in how they are used,” said Lisa Cavallaro of Amherst.

“The crime that does occur here is going to occur in any place, said Jake Bellows of Birdhouse Music in Northampton. “Having a film of that, doesn’t necessarily act as much of a deterrent as people in power might believe.”

Under this ordinance, cameras can only be installed by the police department, in cases of emergencies, in parking garages, and for criminal investigations. It doesn’t leave out the possibility that cameras could be installed for other reasons in the future.

“We have an ordinance which says you cant have surveillance cameras except certain places,” said Ryan O’Donnell, Northampton City Council President. “If a future mayor wants to expand that, then he or she would bring an ordinance amendment to bring in other places in addition to those.”

O’Donnell said those in favor of the surveillance cameras wanted them to monitor traffic at downtown intersections.

22News called Mayor David Narkewicz, but he was unavailable to speak with us Thursday.