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Woman decries police surveillance camera

Nov. 7, 2012 at 2:29 PM

PLATTE CITY, Neb., Nov. 7 (UPI) -- A Platte City, Neb., woman said police inappropriately aimed a surveillance camera at her back yard and bedroom window.

Stephanie Santos, who lives in an apartment with her two children, said her father, who lives in an adjacent apartment, noticed the camera Friday, camouflaged in a nearby tree. A policewoman acknowledged the camera was installed by police to monitor activity in nearby woods and was mounted on city property, but Santos said the land is privately owned.

She and Steve Nash, her father, suspect the camera was installed to catch Nash feeding feral cats, an ongoing issue between him and the city, The Kansas City (Mo.) Star reported Wednesday.

Nash said he addressed the Platte City Board of Aldermen recently to protest what he termed government bullying.

Santos said the camera was removed by an unidentified person in civilian clothes after she spoke with police officers Friday. She said after she called the American Civil Liberties Union, Doug Bonney, chief counsel of the ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri, sent Platte City police Chief Carl Mitchell a letter contending Santos' Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable government intrusion had been violated.

"Obviously, we apologized to Ms. Santos for the concern it caused her," said City administrator D.J. Gehrt, adding the city should not have installed the camera on private property.

"It was very scary and very creepy. Finding out it was the police department didn't make that creepy feeling go away," she said.

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