Big Brother comes to my area.
This is a discussion on Big Brother comes to my area. within the Off Topic & Humor Discussion forums, part of the The Back Porch category; Guess that it makes people feel better that their murder could be caught on video.
Street cameras get council OK
But the $1.5M authorized may ...
August 22nd, 2007 10:43 AM
Big Brother comes to my area.
Guess that it makes people feel better that their murder could be caught on video.
Street cameras get council OK
But the $1.5M authorized may not buy as many as first thought
(August 22, 2007) — Rochester will get its surveillance cameras — but a higher price tag means city officials can't buy as many eyes in the sky as they had hoped.
The plan had been to buy up to 75 cameras initially, and install a system that could handle as many as 250.
At its meeting Tuesday night, City Council authorized spending about $1.5 million. The city is negotiating with two vendors, expecting to select one in the next few weeks and have the first wave of cameras online by mid-November.
"They are going to be a little more expensive, it sounds like, than we first thought," Deputy Police Chief George Markert said before the vote, "a couple thousand more (per camera)."
Initial estimates had been in the neighborhood of $20,000 to $24,000 for a basic unit.
Police are buying single high-resolution color cameras — or pairs of cameras — encased in a metal box and clearly marked to be mounted on telephone poles or buildings. Each camera will be able to pan, zoom and tilt; everything will be recorded and stored, and video could be transmitted to headquarters or receivers in squad cars. Just how many cameras can be bought depends on the mix of single and dual-camera units.
Cameras will monitor what is happening on the street only, Markert said. "We can preset the cameras so they can't look into buildings."
Markert said the city will not hire any additional staff as camera monitors, but instead train light-duty officers, civilian employees or volunteers to do the work. Police are studying crime numbers, looking at what neighborhoods might be declining, and asking for public input to decide where to place the cameras.
"It's not covert," Police Chief David Moore said. "We want this right out front so everyone's aware of it. It's all about preventing something from happening."
City Councilman Adam McFadden, chairman of the council's Public Safety Committee, adds open-air drug markets to the list of likely camera locations. City officials mapped the known, curbside trouble spots early last year and came up with 60 locations, he said.
Given the desire to prevent crime but also catch criminals, McFadden said he would like at least some of the cameras to be hidden. One thing the cameras will not be used for is enforcing traffic laws, officials said.
In other business, City Council extended the pilot youth curfew program for a second year in a 7-to-1 vote. City Council member Carolee Conklin, who has opposed the measure, voted "no." City Council member Lovely Warren was absent.
erg..."It's all about preventing something from happening." yeah...let me know how that works out for you.
August 22nd, 2007 12:17 PM
The mayor and police chief of Jackson, Mississippi went on TV bragging about the camera system they had installed which could be a great tool in fighting crime in Jackson. (Actually it had been installed by the previous administration and never activated.) When the local newspaper requested copies of video footage from the camera recordings, the mayor had to admit they presently could not record anything - only watch. The fact that this can be requested under the freedom of information and open records acts raises several red flags concerning privacy. Even if you are doing nothing wrong, you could be placed in the vicinity and put under a cloud of suspicion without even knowing it until someone knocks on your door or call your telephone to ask about your reason for being there.
I guess as long as they can only watch, it's not too big a problem yet.
Laws that forbid the carrying of arms ... disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes ... they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man. Thomas Jefferson
August 22nd, 2007 12:24 PM
Why not just hire a sketch artist for every corner? Much cheaper and everyone caught on paper would have those cute big heads too.
Don't hit at all if it is honorably possible to avoid hitting; but never hit soft!
-- Theodore Roosevelt --
August 22nd, 2007 12:29 PM
Not only is it a potential privacy violation, it's probably a waste of money.
S.F. public housing cameras no help in homicide arrests
Heather Knight, Chronicle Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
The 178 video cameras that keep watch on San Francisco public housing developments have never helped police officers arrest a homicide suspect even though about a quarter of the city's homicides occur on or near public housing property, city officials say.
Nobody monitors the cameras, and the videos are seen only if police specifically request it from San Francisco Housing Authority officials. The cameras have occasionally managed to miss crimes happening in front of them because they were trained in another direction, and footage is particularly grainy at night when most crime occurs, according to police and city officials.
Similar concerns have been raised about the 70 city-owned cameras located at high-crime locations around San Francisco.
The 178 cameras on public housing property, which have been installed over the past two years with money from the federal government, were the subject of a hearing Monday by the Board of Supervisors' public safety committee.
So far this year, 66 homicides have occurred in San Francisco, compared with 85 in all of 2006. On average, about a quarter of the city's homicides happen on or near public housing property every year, according to statistics from the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice.
Though the Housing Authority doesn't keep a record of how often its cameras' footage is used in making arrests in crimes, a housing authority official and a police lieutenant told the committee they are unaware of the footage ever being used to arrest a homicide suspect.
The city has its own security camera program with 70 cameras in 25 high-crime locations. None of them is on federal housing authority property, but many of them are positioned at street corners right outside them. The city cameras operate in much the same way; they are not routinely monitored in part due to privacy concerns, but footage is available to police upon request.
Lenore Anderson, director of the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice, said she didn't know whether any city cameras had been used to make an arrest in a homicide case. She said more studies need to be done on the security cameras because Monday's hearing was based primarily on anecdotal evidence.
"We absolutely support the investigation into the effectiveness of these and look forward to continuing the conversation," she said.
The Housing Authority, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, owns 53 housing developments around the city that contain 6,360 apartments occupied by about 12,000 tenants most of whom have low incomes.
The authority has spent $203,603 to purchase and maintain its cameras since installing the first batch in the summer of 2005. It has plans to install another 81 cameras, but no date has been set.
Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, chairman of the committee, called the hearing after learning from frustrated residents of public housing developments in the Western Addition that crimes occurring in front of cameras weren't leading to arrests.
Mirkarimi has been a vocal critic of the Housing Authority and said the ineffective cameras are an example of the agency falling down on the job. He said he will call a hearing soon about the possibility of the city taking over the federal authority, an idea that has been raised and rejected in the past.
"The city should be much more vigorous in deciding the fate and future of the Housing Authority, including looking at the city taking it over," he said Monday.
Four homicides have occurred in the past 12 months at the intersection of Laguna and Eddy streets - at the corner of the Plaza East public housing development - including the daytime killing of a 19-year-old in May. A security camera is trained on that corner but so far has not proven useful in making any arrests, Mirkarimi said.
Both the Housing Authority and city have many security cameras in the area, and it wasn't clear Monday whether the camera in question was purchased by the Housing Authority or city. In any case, the camera hasn't helped make arrests in the crimes, Mirkarimi said.
"They're feeling strongly that they don't work," Mirkarimi said of Western Addition residents' views of the security cameras. "They're just apoplectic why they can't figure out why nothing comes of this."
He added that he thinks the cameras may have "a scarecrow effect" in that they give residents the feeling they are safer when they actually have little impact on crime.
Tim Larsen, general counsel for the Housing Authority, said he gets a call from the Police Department about every two weeks asking to see camera footage. He said the cameras have been useful in other crimes - including the assault two weeks ago of a woman held at gunpoint inside a Sanchez Street housing development.
Lt. John Murphy of the homicide detail called the quality of the camera's pictures "very poor" and said that crimes committed during the night tend to just show up as a shadowy figure dressed in dark clothes running quickly. "Bang, bang, bang - they're back in the shadows and gone," Murphy said.
"You see where it occurred, but to positively ID someone? No," he said. "If we can improve the technology in any way, that would be great."
He pointed out that other jurisdictions pay people to monitor the cameras and that they can actually spot a crime about to happen and report it to police in time to prevent the crime.
Larsen said the Housing Authority wants to pay staff to monitor the cameras at all times, but that the agency's dwindling budget makes coming up with the money a challenge. Other immediate needs, including repairing decrepit public housing developments, are competing for the same pot of money, he said.
"It's a balancing act," he said. "What's more important? Obviously, security is important, but so are the roofs and the sewer lines."
Larsen also emphasized the cameras are just one tool among many in reducing crime in the public housing developments. Other initiatives include the community policing program, in which officers try to become part of the neighborhood and get to know residents rather than just responding to emergencies, and the enforcement of anti-trespassing ordinances.
Gregg Fortner, director of the Housing Authority, was out of town and did not attend Monday's meeting. Reached by phone, he said he thinks the cameras are preventing crime.
"You can't measure a crime that wasn't committed," he said. "The fact is, we tried something. If it works, it works, but if it doesn't, it doesn't. At least we're making an effort. If somebody has a better idea, give it to us."
August 22nd, 2007 12:40 PM
VIP Member (Retired Staff)
"We can'' ......... hmmm, very reassuring! All the expense that goes into these systems could be way better spent on even small pro-active changes to policing.
Markert said. "We can preset the cameras so they can't look into buildings."
Plus - even with personel viewing multi camera stations all the time - what are the odds of actually catching something in process? Very low. If camera output taped - a search thru tapes just might manage to ID a perp in an event - if lucky.
Wrong way to spend money - based IMO on ''feelgood'' and votes.
Chris - P95
NRA Certified Instructor & NRA Life Member.
"To own a gun and assume that you are armed
is like owning a piano and assuming that you are a musician!."
- a portal for 2A links, articles and some videos.
August 22nd, 2007 08:34 PM
$1.5 Million? That's apparently enough money to buy a gun for the most responsible and law-abiding 5% of men in Rochester. Huh.
I wonder which would be the better deterrent.
August 22nd, 2007 10:42 PM
For the price of a can of spray paint, the camera is totally worthless.
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