Thursday, August 10, 2006

Crime Cameras to the Rescue?

Another article from the Washington Post "Four neighborhood surveillance cameras will be installed this week on D.C. streets as part of the city's crime emergency plan, which will bring as many as 48 cameras to some of Washington's more violent areas in the coming weeks.

The first cameras will be installed in the Northeast, Southeast and Northwest quadrants, on blocks where robberies, drug dealing and assaults frequently occur, police said. All will be encased in bulletproof boxes."

At the risk of being labeled soft on crime, or a crazy lefty who is in the pocket of the ACLU, I have serious reservations about this $2.3 million program.

-This is an emergency program that is creating a potentially long-term program without proper planing, total cost of ownership or measures of effeciveness.

-While cameras can be a valuable tool for the police, proper resources, training and effort must be undertaken.

-Cameras cannot compete with beat cops. A strong police presence is much more valuable than cameras.

-Who will be monitoring these computers? Out good friends at the Unified Communications Center?

-The broken call center cannot adequately handle calls from residents on either the 311 or 911 lines. Those calling 911 have been put on hold, ignored, or had the information dispatched to cops too late for anyones good. 311 has a reputation of being a garbage bin of unactionable tips. Many which could be valuable in fighting crime, building cases against scofflaws.

-Looking at the track record of the UCC, I am dubious of the effectiveness of this new camera initiative.

-There is also the big brother thing. But in general, I feel that DC will "eff" it up, resulting in a waste of money while incorrectly focusing police from the streets to the computer monitor.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


I agree with you. There's a rush to do this without thinking it through. A short-term band aid to a larger community-based problem that is born of distrust of eachother.

Also, it is very expensive, and people are not idiots. They will take their activities out of sight of the cameras but they will not stop their activities because of the cameras. This whole thing really bothers me.

It's a political stunt, a waste of money, and is the beginning of what I fear may be a slippery slope in the direction of 1984 by George Orwell.