• ATF confirms it installed two video cameras in Seattle's Central District

    By: Graham Johnson


    SEATTLE - The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms confirms to KIRO 7 it has installed two video cameras in Seattle's Central District as part of a criminal investigation.

    Both cameras are on Seattle City Light poles.

    One is near 23rd Avenue and East Union Street, another is near 23rd Avenue and South Jackson Street.

    In a statement, ATF agents cited their work as the lead agency in the Puget Sound Regional Crime Gun Task Force, working with the Seattle Police Department, Washington State Patrol and the Washington State Department of Corrections to reduce gun violence.

    The ATF statement said: "These cameras belong to our agency. They weren't requested by nor are they monitored by the Seattle Police Department."

    An ATF spokesman told KIRO 7 the video from the cameras is stored on a hard drive and is not monitored.

    Brian Bennett of the ATF said the recordings are only reviewed if there is an incident related to the ongoing criminal investigation.

    Bennett would not say if there are more cameras nor provide any details about the investigation.

    The cameras came to light after Lee Colleton, a member of the Seattle Privacy Coalition, noticed them while participating in an early July march following the church shootings in Charleston, South Carolina.

    "I, and other members of my group, try to be on the lookout for these things," Colleton said.

    Colleton returned with a pocket telescope and spotted a phone number on the side of the camera.

    A web search connected that number to an ATF employee.

    "That's how I began to suspect the camera was installed by the ATF," Colleton said. 

    The Seattle Privacy Coalition formed over concerns about the Seattle Police Department purchasing drones and waterfront surveillance cameras without public input.

    The city sent the drones away and police say the cameras are not being used.

    Last month, alarmed about gun violence, some community leaders called on Seattle police to install cameras in high-crime neighborhoods.

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