Wednesday, December 28, 2005

I Spy? Why? 
The Maplewood Township Committee has been considering deploying surveillance cameras in some parts of town to reduce crime - particularly Jacoby Street, where there has been an upsurge in gang activity. For many reasons, this is a bad idea, not least that surveillance cameras do nothing to reduce crime. If the TC members think that merely placing cameras there, without 24x7 monitoring, will do anything at all, they are deluded - but monitoring the cameras will take manpower, and that manpower would be better spent by hiring new police officers and deploying them on foot patrol.

I'm a law abiding citizen, but I don't fancy the police watching my every move in anticipation that I might commit a crime. Surveillance cameras raise some nasty civil rights issues. I'm not sure where current legal thought is on such cameras, but they seem to me to be skirting legality, as violations of the 4th Amendment proscription against unreasonable search. One need only look in today's news to read about this, as the Bush administration is on the hot-seat for spying on citizens without explicit judicial consent and oversight.

These cameras are, simply, a very very bad idea.

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