Saturday, February 27, 2010

Michael Cook: Is there any empirical data?

As I've been following the debate over the proposed placement of surveillance cameras on State and Inn Streets, and along the waterfront, the one question I've not heard anyone ask is, "Is there any empirical evidence out there that proves surveillance cameras actually deter or prevent crime?"

Think about it. There's not a bar or restaurant in Newburyport that is not chock full of video cameras watching their employees and customers alike. But their presence doesn't stop some employees from over serving their customers, and some customers from over indulging.

Here in Costa Rica, the capital city of San Jose is under intense video camera surveillance, but the city's streets still remain extremely dangerous, especially after dark.

Many restaurants, especially higher end establishments catering to upper middle class and affluent Costa Ricans, along with foreign tourists, have video cameras, but that hasn't stopped bands of well dressed thieves entering the establishments, pulling out their weapons, and robbing everyone in the place - a type of crime that is growing in popularity in metro San Jose, despite the presence of video cameras.

Before Americans surrender any more of our privacy and civil liberties, don't we at least have the right to ask whether these intrusions on both actually help keep us safer, and don't the authorities have a responsibility to answer?

Michael Cook
PN de Limon, CR
& Nbpt


Anonymous said...

Points well taken. I am so sorry to hear of the crime situation in San Jose. What a shame. What do you think is going on?


macsurf said...

I see the cameras are getting a "trial run", which in essence means they are a done deal with little to no genuine public input.

When are ordinary, law abiding citizens going to say "Enough"?

I'm sorry, but Newbuyport's crime problems do not warrant 24/7 round the clock video surveillance.

What you wanna bet this is really more about raising revenue than it is fighting real crime.

That nice group of folks, some of them elderly, who come early each morning to the waterfront with their coffees to socialize and chit chat with their dogs in tow, poop bags in hand, who DARE to let their k9 friends romp freely for a half hour - guess what? With the cameras in place, you're BUSTED.

Last time I walked the waterfront @ 6:30 AM, there were ten or so nice folks, who are conscientous about picking up after their dogs who enjoy their coffee, the camaraderie with their fellow residents,not to mention enjoying their dogs having the opportunity, even for just an hour or so shortly after the crack of dawn, to play the way dogs are supposed to play - off leash and naturally.

With cameras in place, you can be sure one of Nbpt's finest will be dispatched to such a heinous crime scene to confront the perps and MOST important of all, write the REVENUE raising tickets.

I just cannot believe so many are so pasively accepting yet another assault on the American way of life.