City Desk

D.C. Crime Cameras: ‘A Joke’

This week, Washington City Paper published a fine takedown on all those D.C. Police crime cameras you see everywhere. As a back-up reporter for the piece, I got to interview a number of cops on the subject. Are these cameras worth the money? Do they help solve crimes?

One aggressive cop I talked to was just blunt about crime cameras. "It usually never captures anything because it slowly moves around," the cop said. "The whole thing is kind of a joke." Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4

Another cop, a police official, was more kind to Big Brother. "They're fantastic at capturing," the official said. "It's evidence that they didn't capture before. It's always a little bit extra. There's cameras all over the place. Better to have them then not have them."

And finally, a retired cop, Lt. Michael Smith, says the cameras have one major flaw. "The biggest problem [is] that the cameras are not monitored as closely," Smith explains. "Nobody is sitting there actually looking at the screen controlling them. You only get bits and pieces."

*photo by Darrow Montgomery.

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  • Jamie

    I've said it before and I'll say it again.

    Put the damn camera feeds online, open to the public. Apart from being an awesome source of time-wasting at work once you've read all the blogs, there must be thousands of busybodies, peeping toms and generally nosey people who would stare at them for hours.

    Let the citizens monitor the cameras and call the police if they see something.

    I can't think of a reason why this would not be legal, or why the feeds shouldn't be available to the public anyway. They all show scenes of public property (much like a traffic camera, which are generally available online), and show you nothing more than you'd see if you were just hanging out there yourself.

  • Fred

    Terrible idea.

  • Arthur Delaney

    That's peeping tom stuff, Jamie.

  • Jamie

    I don't think the cameras are pointing into anyone's houses. And if Big Brother is watching us (or not, as the case may be) why the heck shouldn't we see it too?

  • Arthur Delaney

    The cameras are OMNIDIRECTIONAL! They can point and zoom wherever it pleases their operators.