Housing Complex

Flawed Metropolitan Branch Trail Cameras Not Doing Much to Fight Crime

On Tuesday, a cyclist on the Metropolitan Branch Trail was senselessly beaten by about 15 juveniles, apparently just for kicks—they stole nothing. This raises the question, of course, of what the city's doing to prevent crimes like these. One intended deterrent is the security cameras set up by the District Department of Transportation along the trail in 2010. But these cameras have proven to be seriously flawed.

How flawed? Let's count the ways:

1. According to DDOT spokeswoman Monica Hernandez, the crime took place within the range of one of the three cameras currently installed (two new ones are coming under the New York Avenue bridge). But that camera wasn't working, and "hadn't been working for a while," says Hernandez. DDOT is now repairing the camera.

2. Even when the cameras do work, they won't work very well at night. That's because they're solar-powered, which causes them to have limited visibility at night, according to Hernandez. Although Tuesday's beating took place during daylight, crimes have been known to occur at night from time to time.

3. There's no one actively monitoring the cameras, making it unlikely that they could be used to react quickly to crimes or track down the perpetrators before they've long fled the scene. This, Hernandez says, is intentional. "The cameras were installed as a deterrent," she says. "We’re not in the security business, so we don’t have someone actively monitoring the feed."

Clearly, the cameras haven't been all that effective as a deterrent, nor are they effective as a means of tracking down criminals. Adding more cameras may help, but only if they work, which, apparently, is a big if.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • Novatronic

    There's a flaw, for sure, but it's sociological.

  • Lovessoldier

    Actually the formula goes a little like this = supply humans with the worse possible education possible +sell THEIR home town to the highest bidder+ no recreational opportunities (we close the boys/girls club/stop funding so no COMMUNAL activities to release their hormones)+parents who r underemployed/absent+no accredited mentors (cause the new successful ppl whom have taken over their neighborhoods r afraid of them)= white people (the man) getting effed up on a regular.

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  • NE John

    stop looking for excuses. and install new cameras

  • noodlez



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  • J

    If the reason that the cameras are ineffective is that they're not actually working, then FIX THEM. And check them periodically to see if they're working BEFORE we need footage off of them. Not so complicated, but apparently DC government can't handle that. This isn't the first time.

  • Taxnerd

    At least some of the kids involved must live near the Harry Thomas Rec Center, which does have programs for them to attend. Also, I seem to recall that I managed to pass the long summers with parents who worked without beating up bicyclists.

  • ceefer66

    "The recent assault on the Metropolitan Branch Trail happened in sight of one of the trail's three cameras, but it wasn't working, and even if it were, no one actively watches them and they don't work well at night."

    Unlike the well-maintained speed cameras that can operate 24/7 in rail, sleet, hail. snow, and pitch dark.

    Then again, there's no money in catching criminals. The real money is in catching "lawbreakers" who drive 40 mph on NY Avenue and 55 mph on 295.

    And they call themselves a "city".

  • NE John

    That's right J. These new cameras can very easily be configured to stream to a server to upload video data. This video data can, in turn, be saved because memory is inexpensive these days. The saved data can be used to help convict and incarcerate criminals. Do it now DC!

  • 20011

    "Also, I seem to recall that I managed to pass the long summers with parents who worked without beating up bicyclists."

    You're missing the point. The point is that the "natives" are not responsible for the actions of their youts, nor are the youts responsible for their own actions. The White Man (TM) is responsible for all their ills, thus they are not responsible for their actions.

    P.S. Give them more money.

  • 20011

    P.P.S. Mow-fucker.

  • lovessoldier

    20011- Seems the NATIVES always end up with the short end of the stick when an imperalistic movement takes place. The transition will not be easy and when it is all said and done the city will disappear into one big sinkhole and that formula goes like this = NEW RESIDENTS (basements were not built to withstand the new wear and tear by renters) DEVELOPMENT + ANCIENT FOUNDATION=COLLAPSE. Basically you can't sugar coat shit, and only all the NEW beautiful buildings have good plumbing. Hope you like raw sewage cause that's what your beautifully cultivated lawn will contain by the end of the summer.

    PPS - Mow-fucker to you sir...

  • 20011

    So that absolves the natives of all responsibility for violent crime? I'm sorry, I generally sympathize for your plight and fight for social justice. But violent crime is never excusable and it only hurts your own cause.

    You think it's bad now? Just wait until the demographics get even more skewed against the natives.

    Random, reckless violent crime only hurts your cause. Put that in your pipe when you pick up the phone and say "Allo?"

  • 20011

    US Atty for DC Ron Machen just said on Kojo one reason why public corruption is so unacceptable here is because people from impoverished backgrounds (aka the Natives) should not have to look up to Native individuals who grow up in privilege yet still act criminally.

    Of course, that logic of personal responsibility doesn't square with your view of the world, so you'll blow Machen off as an Uncle Tom.

  • lovessoldier

    20011 I didn't absolve anyone, I just merely stated the facts. Mr. Machen I gurantee has not met/dealt with or mentored a DC youth, so his perspective means NOTHING to me. Have a great day.

  • 20011

    "Native individuals who grow up in privilege yet still act criminally." = Michael Brown, king dumbfuck

  • 20011

    "Mr. Machen I gurantee has not met/dealt with or mentored a DC youth"

    How do YOU know? You don't, of course.

    Nice backhanded way to label him an Uncle Tom, as I predicted.

  • 20011

    BTW, mow-fucker, you haven't stated a single fact yet.

  • Lovessoldier

    20011 Mr. Machen nice to meet u.

  • Lovessoldier

    People have so much power behind computer screens. Mr. 20011 care to join me for drinks as we share the same zip code? I can bring actual DC youth that I've mentored and they can tell you why their peers ate robbing, beating and killing.

  • J

    I'm not 20011, but that would be a very interesting discussion.

  • 20011

    They're robbing, beating and killing because their parents haven't raised them properly and the criminal justice system aids and abets them.

    You're excuse making for the gratuitous violent crime in this city is disgusting. Never forget that the rate of black-on-black crime is higher than black-on-white. You reap what you sow.

  • 20011

    Why on earth would I voluntarily place my life in danger by meeting someone who endorses violent crime against innocent victims because life isn't fair? You're insane.

    Again, as the demographics continue to change, your leverage will continue to decrease. I get get yours will the gettin's good, because your reign of terror in the District is ending.

  • 20011

    Take responsibility for your own children. It's not my job to mentor your children because you were too stupid to not breed with losers nor not have kids you couldn't afford.

  • Asuka

    Enough excuses. We've given them every opportunity under the sun. We pour endless amounts of money down the public education drain. We pour endless amounts of money down the assistance program drain. We pour endless amounts of money down the criminal justice drain. We given them preferences in admissions and hiring. We tolerate their antisocial behavior and absorb the costs of it. What else is there to do? How much more codling do they need? They've suffered? So has nearly every other minority in this country's history, and yet they have all thrived. We won't be guilt-tripped much longer - the gravy train will be ending soon.

  • NE John

    Why Lord why!

  • DC Guy

    It would be interesting to see how much of the discretionary spending in the District goes to services for the poor, between housing, health, education (here, I mean over and above the base DCPS budget, which serves affluent areas as well), daycare, nursery care, summer jobs, job training, adult retraining, etc.

    I would guess that DC is about a generous as it gets with these government services, yet somehow, there is always more money needed. Somehow, things were quite as bad on the violent crime front 50 years ago. I am not saying "life" was better then by any stretch, but how effective is the government spending to address these social issues?

    Violent crime should never be tolerated, regardless of who the victims are.

  • lovessoldier

    20011 Clearly you are the one that is insane if you believe I am advocating violence. I am a single black woman without kids who works in the community. I am not raising anyone's children to kill, I offered you a personal perspective from youth whom are not violent criminals. Seek medical attention. You are overtly hostile. I invited you to meet your community and you took it as a threat. Sad state of affairs.

  • 20011

    ^^^ You're excusing violent crime. Who is the sad state of affairs?

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  • eponymous

    20011 - No one is *excusing* anything here. To offer a reason WHY social problems exist is not to say that violent behavior is acceptable. Rather, the WHY allows us to decide how to most effectively combat the problem and prevent it in the future. In addition to being more just, it is much MUCH cheaper than providing remedial services - including, ultimately incarceration of many people who perhaps could have been helped if they had the right start in life.

    Example: in many poor countries, educating women and providing them with access to reproductive choice has VASTLY improved the economic situations of families. Social services DO help break the cycle of poverty. Alas, we've done little but cut them in the past decade.

  • Mandrake

    Every single camera in public space in DC needs to be available to the public through streaming video online. This would mean more eyes on what is going on and we'd know exactly what the police are seeing which they claim to be perfectly fine.

  • Walter Smith

    The one fact that people seem to want to avoid addressing is that most of the victims are White, and the perps are not. How an one ignore the racial angle to these attacks. Until this fact is faced, nothing can, and will, be done to stop this on-going attack on European-Americans in the city they choose to call home. Remember, WE are the ones who are causing the regrowth of dc, and we demand some assistance.

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