Turning New York’s financial district into a panopticon was just supposed to be phase one
By Noah Shachtman
Turning New York’s financial district into a panopticon was just supposed to be phase one. The real heart of the New York Police Department’s “Lower Manhattan Security Initiative,” I was repeatedly told, was going to be 800 more officers, protecting the bridges, tunnels, skyscrapers, and landmarks of the most visible terrorist target on the planet.
But now, bad economic times are forcing the NYPD to “slow down plans to assign 800 officers to the area near Ground Zero and Wall Street,” Newsday reports. The surveillance cameras are remaining, however, at least for now.
300 of a planned 3,000 specially-equipped electronic eyes have already been deployed. Thousands more are actually owned by the companies of the financial district, and are already in place — if not hooked up to the network. “On the street, 30 police cars with two roof-mounted cameras have begun reading license plates of passing and parked cars,” WCBS TV notes. And a 28th-floor command center is up and running, monitoring the spycam feeds.
Many of lower Manhattan’s most important sites, like the New York Stock Exchange, are already guarded with vehicle barriers, bomb-sniffing dogs, and M-4-carrying officers. But the larger plan, to cover the 1.7 mile area below Canal Street with cops, is now officially a question mark.