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Manchester Moves Forward with Surveillance Cameras Despite Court Order

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A judge in Manchester says the city's plan to install surveillance cameras could violate the state's current privacy laws, but the Manchester Police Department is moving forward with the plan anyway.  


In June, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshiresued the city on behalf of four plaintiffs, claiming the three cameras planned on Elm Street would give police identifying information protected by privacy law, including motorists' faces and their license plate numbers.


In a preliminary order issued on Tuesday, Judge Tina L. Nadeau said that simply installing the cameras wasn't illegal, but reviewing the footage and identifying someone would be.


ACLU Legal Director Gilles Bisonette says Manchester should heed this message.


“The court is strongly suggesting: if you move forward, there is inevitably going to be a crime committed by Manchester Police Department,” he said. 


But Judge Nadeau did not agree with the ACLU entirely. She denied the plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunctive relief, and found that two of the plaintiffs did not have standing in the lawsuit, because they did not live in Manchester and couldn't prove they would be personally identified by the cameras.


The remaining plaintiffs, Carla Gericke and John Slattery, own property in Manchester and, Nadeau found, have standing as taxpayers to sue Manchester over the cameras, which are estimated to cost about $15,000.


The Manchester Police Department says it's still moving forward with plans to install the cameras, though it doesn’t have a specific date yet.


Sarah Gibson joined NHPR's newsroom in 2018. She reports on education and demographics.
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