Posted by: Tony Carson | 17 August, 2007

Those cameras on crime

It is sad but true: Cameras help cities reduce crime. The bad guys have won, now we’re all on candid camera, or should be.

The efficacy of these street cameras has caught the world’s attention in London where crimes seemed to get solved almost immediately, thanks in large measure to the fact that the city has become one big iMax. And you don’t hear many complaints.

And you don’t hear many complaints on Lenox Street in East Orange New Jersey where residents once had become so “used to the constant pops outside their open windows from gang drive-bys, drug deals gone bad and fights over prostitutes’ that they didn’t bother phoning the police.

Now? Since 93 sensors and 18 cameras went up, covering about half of this 3.9-square-mile city, “the drug dealers left and haven’t been back. Nothing happens here anymore,” says a resident.

Cities such as Oakland, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles and Minneapolis, among other small and midsized cities, are also using the sensors and cameras. Birmingham, Ala., a 160-square-mile city of about 240,000 people, paid $987,000 for 100 sensors to cover its roughest parts.

Jose Cordero, police director in East Orange, said the sensors and cameras have helped reduce crime 38% and shootings 30% so far this year compared to 2006. The city has nearly halved its murders from 17 in 2004 to nine last year, Cordero said.

It cost the city about $150,000 for the technology, although it received a considerable price break from the companies who designed and installed the equipment as a demonstration for other cities, said Lt. Chris Anagnostis.

The inherent enmity between human rights and invasive technology has not been played out— by a long shot, but with results like these a case can be made for a Big Brother who really does seem to want to protect you.


  1. Whooee! I appreciate and wanna protect my privacy and the privacy of others. However, public places are just that — public. I don’t believe I have a right to privacy in a public place, nor do I believe anyone has such a right.

    If you do something that you think should be private, do it in private, not in public. We have laws protecting our privacy in private places. Laws must also protect the public in public places.


  2. I appreciate your point, JimBobby, but if the state is allowed to collect all the information they want about you without cause, without reason, without your consent, or without your explicit knowledge, then private v. public isn’t the issue. Its a state power issue.

    I live in London. I respect the state to use the information provided by the CCTV cameras in the same way they use their police officers: unarmed assistance to the public. However, my reaction to a public CCTV camera and/or a police officer in New Jersey would be dramatically different. I do not view American police as assistance to the public. Nor do I expect their CCTV to perform the same services.

    So, to me this describes the difference between the states of the American State, and the British State. I welcome the British cameras, the ensure my wife’s safety. I deplore the American cameras, as I do not trust them.

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