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New York City to expand security camera network to midtown

The city will expand its ring of security cameras and license plate readers to include midtown, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Wednesday in his state of the city address.

An expansion of the security initiative beyond lower Manhattan has been talked about in City Hall for months, and Bloomberg's remarks come at a time when the city is having to deal with even more security for the upcoming federal trial of suspects in the Sept. 11 conspiracy.

Initially, the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative promised 3,000 video cameras - run by police and private industry - and about 100 portable license plate readers that cops could use to check car registrations.

Yesterday, a Police Department spokesman said the mix of police and private camera systems already in use amounted to the "early hundreds." License plate readers were also in place.

The lower Manhattan coverage is costing the city $42 million and the midtown expansion will cost $24 million, the department said.

The move drew criticism from civil libertarians. "We oppose LMSI and its proposed expansion because it will have the Police Department tracking and storing in a massive database the whereabouts and movements of millions of law abiding New Yorkers without any safeguards or privacy protection," said Chris Dunn, an attorney with the New York Civil Liberties Union.

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