27 September 2007

Camera follies

The newest hype that the police department has had to deal with is, no not the SOS scandal, but Video Surveillance Cameras. Every time there is an incident in a district that involves a victim and an offender, people in the area clammer for a camera. The cameras have become a Big Band-aid that the good citizens believe will magically make the crime dissipate from their neighborhood.

I came across this story today on Breitbart News about new cameras that the city is developing. I guess it is going to be tied into the new Fusion Center down at HQ that will, allegedly, tie all of our systems together (thus the name).

Ask your everyday street cop about these cameras and you'll likely get a snort of disgust. People act like these boxes are going to deter crime. Well, they don't. They simply push the criminals off the street and they go to the next street. The folks on the new street get upset that now their block has gang-members hanging out, someone gets shot and, the clammer for a new camera on THAT block begins. All these cameras are doing is pushing the bad elements around like chess pieces.

As the article says, there is no study to show that these cameras reduce crime. And they are expensive. An alderman told me that each one runs approximately $60,000 to install and run. The new "tweeks" that the article talks about will add about $10,000 to that original cost. Is it worth it? In my opinion, no. The city should take all the money it's spending on cameras and hire more police officers.

The article states that cameras "never get bored or tired" and I assume that is a slam on the officers who monitor the hundreds of PODs throughout the city. Well you can have as many cameras as you want but if a crime occurs within the vicinity, you're going to need a couple cops to go arrest the bad guy, investigate the suspicious package or stop the car circling the block.

Another issue that people don't factor in is that - in acquiring that shiny new white box and flashing blue light on their corner - it will scare away potential real estate buyers from their area. If Rex and Muffy Quartermaine decide to come and look at a house for sale and there is a POD on the corner, what message does that send? It sends the message that there is crime in the area. The city doesn't put the cameras up just for yucks.

If you want my two cents on crime reduction, start a phone tree with your neighbors. When one person calls 911, that person will call 3 others and those 3 others will all call one additional person and then 911. When 911 gets "multiple tickets" on an incident, it tends to get a higher priority and calls for service drives where we send our man power.

But the desire for the cameras really comes down to citizens who don't want to call the police out of fear of retaliation. They just want the camera there so that IT will make the 911 call for them.


Anonymous said...

Are they really bullet-proof? Saw one up close and its just thin sheet metal.

Anonymous said...

sEISER THE GREAT actually levitated himself up to the lens of a pole box and gave a political hack who took time to look a heart attack ALL HAIL SEISER THE GREAT