The Lincolnton City Council approved a request from the police department at its May meeting to install several security cameras on Main Street — cameras that will cover the area from Cedar Street to the courthouse. We feel the cameras are an unnecessary infringement upon the right to privacy of citizens in Lincoln County and should not be put in place.
The resolution passed the City Council without any argument, even from conservative members of the Council. We live in a time when security cameras have become a common sight at private businesses — walk into a grocery store or Wal-Mart and look up at the ceiling and you’ll find a whole host of video cameras recording every move you make. But the right of a business to safeguard its products and the right of the government to keep a watchful eye on its citizens are two completely different things.
City and police officials have both agreed that the area that will be covered by the cameras is generally free of crime. If that portion of Main Street was a hotbed of drug dealing or property crime, an argument could be made that the cameras are necessary. But they aren’t.
While government surveillance of that portion of Main Street will not likely affect the way people do business there, it is the first step down a slippery slope that we’ve seen play out on a national scale in recent weeks.
The famous quote from Benjamin Franklin is pertinent in this instance: “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”