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US wants video surveillance towers along Canada border in Vt., NY

Published: Feb. 23, 2021 at 5:59 PM EST
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FRANKLIN, Vt. (WCAX) - Are remote video surveillance systems headed to towns in our region along the Canadian border?

A U.S. Customs and Border Patrol proposal calls for surveillance towers in Highgate Center, Franklin, Richford, Derby Line and North Troy in Vermont. And Champlain, New York, would get two. Our Ike Bendavid headed to one of the towns listed in the proposal for reaction.

With a population of 1,400, Franklin is a small rural town in Franklin County. And that’s a good thing for those who live there.

“It’s quiet, I like it,” said Linda Hartman of Franklin. “I wouldn’t live anyplace else.”

“It’s pretty quiet, not many people around,” said Kaitlyn Bruley of Franklin.

But being a town along an international border, this small community sees some illegal activity.

“We hear about it,” Hartman said. “One time we had an incident where they came through the woods, came up on my porch and headed down the road.”

“You see a lot of suspicious activity. I mean, tracks in the snow, walking down the road,” said Jordan Bushey of Franklin.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has proposed putting eight video surveillance towers up along the Canadian border in several Vermont and New York communities.

The Border Patrol website says the towers would be 120-180 feet tall. The site also says the towers would not have a significant impact on the quality of the human or natural environment.

“I am not sure there’s enough illegal activity across this border to warrant it,” said Dave Bennion, the vice-chair of the Franklin Select Board. “It seems to me it’s an overkill.”

Bennion says the town has been left in the dark when it comes to the video surveillance tower proposal in their community. He encourages people no matter how they feel to submit their public comments for the record.

“Just generally, we don’t like the idea that they are kind of ramming this down our throat,” Bennion said.

Advocates from the ACLU agree, saying the towers create a privacy issue.

“It’s important for people who care about privacy as so many Vermonters do, care about our communities and don’t want to see them turn into militarized police zones,” said James Lyall of the ACLU of Vermont.

But we got mixed reactions from others who live in Franklin.

“I feel safer with it,” Hartman said.

“I think they do have good means, but you are also watching us, you’re not just watching Canada,” Bushey said.

We reached out to the Border Patrol to learn more about the towers and to get numbers on legal and illegal crossings in our region. We had not yet heard back when this story was published.

Click here for more information on the proposed video surveillance system and how to submit your comments.

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US hopes to erect new surveillance towers along Canada line

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