Saturday, May 17, 2008

RIP Blue Light Cameras!

Fritze reports it's good riddance to O'Malley's election-season folly, blue-light cameras! (Estory)

When I was at a CJCC meeting while the lights were being installed during the election season, the estimates I heard to get the first generation of cameras up and going was $800,000 - $1.3 million each.
$30k is a bit of a diff!

19 comments:

LucidSplash said...

The link connects back to the crimeblog, not to the article. :(

ppatin said...

A million bucks per camera? Bloody hell. How many police man-hours would that pay for!

elixx said...

yeah my roommate mentioned that 30,000 per blue light camera could provide many people's annual income who could really use it.

however. this is not a victory. please understand this is not a victory at all. they are going to deploy next-generation tech cameras -- monitored CCTV cameras are allready in existance here in bmore. they are talking assisted monitoring with the 'behavior recognition' video as well as facial recognition.
such as, computerized alogorithms to determine if someone is carrying a weapon, acting suspiciously, following someone, littering, etc...

i dont know what extent they have planned yet. but consider that they arent going to go with old tech. they copied the bluelight cams (same vendor) and the comstat ideal from the chicago PD, who happens to also be phasing out the bluelight cams in favour of better 'solutions'. they had no comment on their surveillance changes.


this is not a victory. they are stepping their game up.

--elixx (at) iowntheinter . net

ppatin said...

Uh, if the new cameras actually work (from what I understand the old ones were fairly useless) then this is a victory.

elixx said...

The old cameras had a 3 day retention and required officers in a car with a 'football' that could monitor, pan, zoom, and rewind the cameras. They required active manpower to monitor.
All of the other cameras are CCTV to my knowledge with centeralized active monitoring. I would imagine that the only efficient way to deploy cameras that require less manpower to monitor would be ones with assistive technology.
They mention the new cameras being "more sophisticated", that "drug dealers tend to embrace technology more quickly than we do sometimes, and we've got to continually evolve to stay ahead of it", and "police are working with IBM to build a network that is better integrated with city dispatch. He also said facial recognition cameras may be the next iteration of available technology."

I guess it's all gravy, though -- IBM made the Hollerith system to help the Nazis track and manage people, so they might actually know what they're doing with this.

ppatin said...

Nazis? WTF are you talking about. Either the cameras will work, in which case they're a good thing, or they'll be useless like the old system.

elixx said...

o, ok

MJB said...

you would've done well in the old O'Malley mayorship pp --"They will work. It will be good."

ppatin said...

Except that nothing O'Malley did seemed to work! I'm sorry, but the claim that the crime cameras infringe on people's rights is nonsense. People don't have a right to privacy on a public street, but they do have a right to walk down that street without being mugged/beaten/raped/murdered. Now, it's very possible that the cameras don't do any good. There seems to be a pretty good argument that they do nothing more than shift crime around a bit. If that's true then they're a waste of money and should be scrapped.

Anonymous said...

Two more homicides this weekend:

http://www.wbaltv.com/news/16320262/detail.html

badfish said...

haha anytime i read stories about police cameras i think of herc losing that camera on the wire...

whether or not these cameras reduce overall crime in bmore, reliance on them just further indicates that eyewitnesses are not numerous enough to either solve crimes or to prosecute them. the root of the problem is that people are afraid to talk to police, and there is no short-term solution to that.

buzoncrime said...

I don't have the citation, but there has been some research in England to indicate that the cameras effect wears off pretty quickly. Eventually, the criminals don't even know or care if they're there. And the State's Attorney's office here has said that they're really not a significant factor in prosecutions at all.

The cameras are not much of a deterrent; otherwise, why would we see all these criminals on TV committing all these crimes? (Though, I assume some unknown percentage of potential criminals are deterred). Every bank robber knows that every bank has cameras, yet we have banks getting robbed all the time.(And they know they are going to be looked at by the vaunted FBI!) Most criminals know that unless someone is going to come right away to investigate, the cameras typically won't do much. And as far as apprehension goes, you've got to have someone be able to recognize the suspect. Many suspects just try to avoid the camera, or wear a hat or hood.

Now the system around Hopkins Homewod alerts a live operator, who can zoom in with a high-quality system (most are not, if they're working at all), and dispatch security to check the condition out. But it's a very limited system on the periphery of campus, expensive, and depends on a working system and immediate response force.

There is a use for cameras in selected areas, perhaps, especially in a private business environment, but it is certainly an open question how effective they are for a city as a whole, when considering the cost of an effective implementation.

Often the use of technology is favored over proper use of human resources. As ppatin points out, how many additional cops could we get for each camera?
How many PAL centers? How much overtime?

John Galt said...

And we're missing the whole issue of willingness to use the technology.

The State's Attorney has basically announced that it will not prosecute on ther basis of camera evidence.

Juries in this town are predisposed to acquit and sentences handed down by judges are some tiny fraction of the maximum for any offense, often just probation.

Consequently, police officers on posts which have cameras almost never check the footage after an incident, unless it has some particular political significance, because it's a lot of paperwork to not incapacitate offenders.

The real question to ask is:

Do we really want to apprehend/punish criminals or are we just playing a very expensive game ?

ppatin said...

"sentences handed down by judges are some tiny fraction of the maximum for any offense, often just probation."

I don't think that's true. If you look at cases where a jury actually convicted someone of a crime the sentences are often quite stiff, at least in the case of violent felonies. The two big problems are that too many cases have to be pled out, and our idiotic parole system lets too many criminals out long before they finish their sentences. Maryland should simply abolish parole. You get a 20 year sentence, you do the full 20.

John Galt said...

Yes, but violent felonies are a small percentage of the (massive) total crime that goes on around here.

On what planet are violent felonies the only behavior worthy of enforcement ? And what the hell kind of place does that make Baltimore ?

ppatin said...

Heh, as you know I strongly support draconian punishments for all crimes (hang car thieves!) but crime in B'more far outstrips resources. How many, say, car theft cases in this city actually go to trial and result in a conviction? I'm willing to bet that the overwhelming majority end up pleading out, and it's almost always plea bargains that result in outrageously lax sentences. Can anyone show any cases with a conviction at trial where the judge handed down a weak sentence?

Gor said...

I hear Iran, China and certain Sudanese agencies are using Microsoft Office, which I guess makes Bill Gates responsible for their actions, right?

OM said...

Man, how quickly a conversation can turn to Nazis, Iran, and Bill Gates.

The cameras, as they are right now, are nothing but a sign not to commit crimes at a certain geographic spot, where the residents are relatively safe from crime, and in return they get a blue light in their faces, that probably makes them want to kill themselves anyway.

And I'm not saying violence is a zero-sum game, but the blue lights just tell people to do what they want to do on the next block.

New cameras will involve issues of privacy and the possibility of using the camera as evidence, but at least the situation won't be as ridiculous as it is today.

Gail said...

Nazis?

Don't make me invoke Godwin's Law...