Cameras Present, but Victims Dead

I have made the point before about how police surveillance cameras are not deterrents to crime, so this story touched a nerve for me this morning:

Baltimore’s expansive police surveillance network has led to a homicide arrest, after a downtown stabbing was captured in real-time by city cameras.

In another case, police arrested a suspect in a fatal shooting after a home surveillance system captured a confrontation on a block where a man was gunned down.

Authorities monitoring the city’s blue-light CitiWatch cameras observed an altercation at about 1:40 a.m. Saturday in the 300 block of N. Paca St. and officers who responded to the scene found 18-year-old David Reese suffering from a stab wound to the chest, according to charging documents. Using the cameras, officials tracked the apparent assailant running through a parking lot, and cameras recorded his capture and arrest by police.

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That’s wonderful, but the victims still died. A lot of the people who trumpet the use of surveillance cameras and the expansion of the nannystate like to sell these cameras on the concept that they prevent crimes from occurring. Well, in a city as relatively lawless in Baltimore, that is never going to happen, and this pretty much proves it.

And this quote really pisses me off:

“Baltimore is using cameras in a way that a lot of other jurisdictions are not, by using them pro-actively, especially in the downtown areas where they have monitors watching cameras almost 24-7,” said Nancy La Vigne, a senior researcher with the Urban Institute. “It’s not just a technology that sits.”

And what way is that exactly? How is it being “pro-active” to use these cameras to capture crimes on video, and then deal with the repercussions after the fact as the officers would do in any normal circumstances? It’s not like the camera is shooting lasers at criminals to actively stop them from doing anything; it is just a passive box that records what is going on around it. A technology that, in fact, just sits there.

When are people going to realize that police cameras are nothing more than a sham? And when are police departments and lawmakers going to stand up and direct resources to more useful crime fighting techniques than surveillance that general only captures the actions of law-abiding citizens?


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