CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Cameras to watch for crime Cincinnati police getting eyes on 120 locations

It's the first step toward a system that eventually could send real-time video to officers' in-cruiser laptops as well as instantly read license plates and run them through motor vehicle registration.Some of the cameras also might have gunshot-recognition sensors, which turn the cameras toward the direction of the shots and zoom in.Call takers and dispatchers in the 911 center, when a crime is reported, will be able to check any nearby cameras to immediately describe what they can see, while officers are still on the way

Cincinnati is following larger cities such as Chicago and New York into the crime camera business. London leads the way in sheer quantity, with 10,000 throughout the city, though some opponents doubt whether the cameras deter crime.

Chicago started its "Operation Disruption" in 2003 and continues to add more cameras. The American Civil Liberties Union there has said the cameras are OK as long as they only monitor street crime and don't violate personal privacy.

Commanders of the city's five police districts will soon recommend where the cameras should go, Capt. Jeff Butler, project supervisor, said.

He said the cameras will be put up throughout the city, not just in one or two neighborhoods.

They will be in addition to the 20 going up along Glenway Avenue by the end of October. Target Corp. paid the $183,000 for those.

Although catching homicides on video would be ideal, Butler said officials expect the cameras more often will be helpful on what he calls "the reactive end," for investigators going back to look at video taken just after a crime.

Those uses will lead to more identification and apprehension of suspects, he thinks, and the video will help prosecutors get more convictions.

There's also the possibility of using a camera to watch a problem spot.

"Say there's an officer eating his lunch in his car," he said. "Eventually, he'll be able to watch a camera that's maybe two blocks away. So if he sees something, he puts down his lunch and goes." [Mark Godsey]

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Where does this end? Will police swarm on J-walkers during a slow crime day? Will a fight between two people get both thrown in jail instead of these two individuals just working it out between the two of them? Will a parents who spanks a five-year-old gently get thrown in prison for two years for child abuse? Rather than having sensible crime laws, it seems the police are throwing cameras up to cover up bad policy.

Posted by: Joe | Jun 25, 2008 7:58:08 AM

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