Monday, January 22, 2007

Flashing Blue Comes Up in the Red

The verdict is in.

The blue light surveillance cameras. Those flashing Watchful Eyes of Big Brother, with the Orwellian "Believe" in Big Block Letters. One Flash-Flash-Flashes over and over into The League Headquarter's window periodically at night, which means we can honestly attest to their disturbing nature for nearby residents. And they serve as a Mark-of-Shame on the neighborhoods they infest.

And here's the kicker: they're ineffective.

The Baltimore Examiner reported this morning that "the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office says new data they’ve compiled raise serious questions about the effectiveness of the close to 300 pole cameras posted around Baltimore." The program's millions of dollars in cost has yielded very little results, netting a measly 399 guilty verdicts. The vast majority of the arrests were on drug violations, and "illegal cigarettes" came in third with 21 charges.

We can debate the symbolic and constitutional implications of the cameras for years, but the fact that they are ineffective is now indisputable. They are not a cost-effective means of fighting the crime that plagues our city.

The article mentions that police continue to defend the program, pointing to a "a 16 percent decrease in crime in the areas with surveillance cameras." But that doesn't actually mean a 16 percent reduction in crime as a whole. Rather, crimes that would have taken place on one corner move to another as soon as a camera is installed. Should we spend the billions of dollars needed to keep a watchful eye on every centimeter of public space in Baltimore City?

You shouldn't have needed to read this paragraph to know that the answer is "Of course not." Crime will always exist so long as the socio-economic, cultural and biological factors that result in it exist, so cameras are a waste of money. Perhaps we should redistribute our resources into tackling the root of the problem instead of keeping up this Leaguer with a blue light at night.

from The League: Reassembled


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whoopee! While I've often gotten the heebie-jeebies from the proliferation of cameras in Maryland and DC, I've been unwilling to argue to strongly against them because of the presumption that they make a difference in actually making us safer. If they don't then we really need to rethink cameras for crimes, stops, speeding, etc.

1/23/2007 10:46:00 AM  
Blogger Gilbert said...

Biological factors?

1/26/2007 02:01:00 PM  

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