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Define That Term #88

NYPD Deploys First of 500 Security Cameras

As a follow up to this post, the NYPD is in the process of implementing the "ring of steel"  around lower Manhattan in the form of thousands of security cameras. 

As reported in this article:

Along a gritty stretch of street in Brooklyn, police this month quietly launched an ambitious plan to combat street crime and terrorism. But instead of cops on the beat, wireless video cameras peer down from lamp posts about 30 feet above the sidewalk.

They were the first installment of a program to place 500 cameras throughout the city at a cost of $9 million. Hundreds of additional cameras could follow if the city receives $81.5 million in federal grants it has requested to safeguard Lower Manhattan and parts of midtown with a surveillance "ring of steel" modeled after security measures in London's financial district...

The city already has about 1,000 cameras in the subways, with 2,100 scheduled to be in place by 2008. An additional 3,100 cameras monitor city housing projects.

In my prior post, I'd expressed misgivings regarding the "ring of steel", and this quote from the above article echoes the basis for my concerns:

Lieberman concedes cameras can help investigators identify suspects once a crime has been committed, but argues they can't prevent crime. She cited a 2002 study which concluded that surveillance cameras used in 14 British cities had little or no impact on crime rates _ just as they didn't keep terrorists from bombing the London subway system last year.

As I see it, the slow demise of our civil liberties outweighs the benefit of the surveillance cameras.  In my prior post I asked:  "If we must erode our civil liberties in the name of terrorism, shouldn't the primary goal be prevention?"  This inquiry has not yet been answered to my satisfaction.

Comments

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slickdpdx

Isn't identifying criminals a powerful way of preventing crimes? (Both by locking up perps and by deterring them.) To say that a crime on tape wasn't prevented seems kind of tautological.

Only a determined pessimist could cast the success of the cameras in helping to identify and set the time line and uncover the conspiracy of the bombers in London as a failure.

NBlack

Why Slick--Are you calling me a "determined pessimist"? Well, I never!

And, I'm by no means suggesting that the cameras don't serve a purpose. But when you balance it against our consitutional rights, our rights win, in my book. In other words, it's just not worth it.

slickdpdx

No I was calling the Post writer a determined pessismist. It was a nice phrase though, wasn't it?

I think there is some reasonable ground here between privacy alarmism and government overreaching. How are the cameras different (in the privacy sense) than having a bunch of cops walking around looking at everybody? Where the cameras are placed seems to be far more important than whether there are cameras at all.
Also, a problem on a really bad block is that regular citizens are terrified: not of the government, but of the local thugs, and aren't willing to act as witnesses. (I'm not saying they don't have beefs with the government too, but they're not afraid of the government the same way.)

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