I saw this video yesterday and I thought it would be fun to share it here. It’s a little animation about how police work will be in the future. Amazingly, a lot of this technology already exists, but hasn’t yet matriculated into the law enforcement system. I also think this is a pretty accurate picture of what policing might be like in 20 years or so (well, minus the jet packs and areal bikes).
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The following article was taken from Rajiv Shah’s Smart Cameras Blog (with permission from the author):
Chicago’s surveillance cameras were used to track Chicago School Board chief Michael Scott from a convalescent home to a lonely downtown spot along the Chicago River. By using the cameras, the police believe that Scott didn’t meet up with anybody else during that time.
This investigation highlighted the vast network of surveillance cameras in Chicago. Chicago has approximately 15,000 cameras at its disposal. Two thousand cameras are used for fighting crime by the CPD. The rest can be found at the CTA, airports, Park District, McCormick Place, public schools, and private cameras that have joined the city network.
Recently, the San Jose, Calif., Police Department announced that it will soon begin a one-year experiment with Taser’s officer-mounted AXON cameras. The cameras are small enough to fit on top of an earpiece and record video and audio, essentially recording everything the officer sees and hears while the camera is on. Although officers have the ability to turn the devices on or off, they do not have the ability to erase or edit what has been recorded. And Chief Rob Davis says the department will institute policies regarding when an officer should or should not turn the devices on.
The Ubiquity of Cameras
The decision to implement the program comes after the San Jose PD and other many other law enforcement agencies across the country have been involved in cases of police misconduct that were captured on digital and cell phone cameras. One only has to do a quick search on YouTube to find a citizen-captured video of police officers. But these videos are often edited to only show alleged police misconduct, not what led up to the incident, skewing public perception in favor of the victim, not the officers.
A Camera Can Be an Officer’s Best Friend
At a recent IACP 2009 panel discussion, Steven Drizin, Legal Director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions at the Northwestern University School of Law, and other panelists agreed that video recording interrogations and confessions was one of the best ways to prevent the police from accusations of misconduct and coercion. In fact, after Illinois passed a law requiring all interrogations to be video taped, motions to suppress suspect confessions at trial dropped to nearly zero. So, recording out in the field can be an officer’s best friend, and the San Jose PD hopes that this type of recording will help protect officers and give the department a more complete picture of any incident officers encounter.
The Death of Privacy
On the other hand, the policy on how the videos will be handled is a little unclear. Representatives from the mayor’ s office say that the videos would fall under the same policies as 911 tapes, “which can be requested but often are not released by police” (source). Still, video of suspects, their vehicles, or the insides of their homes, seems a bit more sensitive than audio of a 911 call. And questions about who sees the video, who handles it, and who controls it become very important to all citizens who value their personal privacy.
Pete Cashmore, founder and CEO of Mashable, recently wrote in a CNN.com article that “privacy is dead” due to the proliferation of social media. He even cites a personal video recording device (much like the AXON, but for citizens) as an example of the way that we are all constantly being monitored and monitoring others. Is the AXON another way in which citizens will be recorded, uploaded, and shared with others without even knowing it? Could this new technology result in a slew of privacy lawsuits against the San Jose PD?
“Wait Till I Tell My Wife”
Obviously these are issues that the San Jose PD will have to wrestle with over the next year as they discover the benefits and pitfalls of widespread video recording of their officers’ actions. I have no doubt that they are sensitive to these issues and will work to protect citizens rights whenever possible. But I also wonder if somewhere, sometime, a crime analyst or civilian employee will see my face on a video screen from a routine traffic stop and think, “I knew that guy in High School. Wait till I tell my wife about this.”
What do you think about San Jose’s AXON pilot program and the way it may or may not impact citizen privacy? Leave a comment.
Get on the crime map at CrimeReports.com
Recently, in Atlanta, a couple posted a surveillance video on YouTube of three men burglarizing their home. Soon after, the three men were caught. It’s just one of the ways that social media is helping to decrease crime.
Social Media Increases Communication
The rise of web 2.0 and social media has enabled everyone to communicate faster and easier than ever before in the history of the planet. And these new communication tools are useful for more than just telling all your Facebook friends that you’re having spaghetti for dinner, they are having an impact on real-world situations, including crime.
Communication Decreases Crime
As little as 10 years ago, communicating with your local police department was a difficult, time-consuming process. Sure, citizens could read about crime in the weekly police blotter in the newspaper, or maybe hear about a handful of high-profile crimes on the local news, but to find out about crime in one’s own neighborhood required slogging down to the station, filling out paper work, and waiting. Likewise, police could do little to inform the public about crime in their area, save going door-to-door to tell everyone in the neighborhood what was going on.
Today, police and citizens have virtual two-way communication through web 2.0 technology like CrimeReports, Twitter, Facebook, or even text messaging. And as the avenues of communication increase, crime decreases. Eric Baumer, a criminologist at Florida State University in Tallahassee said, “It’s interesting in the sense that [crime has gone down] while the ability of citizens to surveil and connect to police” has gone up.
Citizens Want to Connect
When citizens have the ability to communicate and connect with their local law enforcement, they use it. If going down to the station to request crime reports was too time consuming in the past, now citizens can simply go to CrimeReports and see crime with a few clicks of a mouse or follow their local PD on Twitter.
With ease of communication comes more widespread adoption. Now that communication with law enforcement has become easier through web 2.0 tools, more people are tuning in, following, friending, and engaging in the conversation. And when more people are getting the information they need to keep themselves safe, more people are using that knowledge to protect themselves and prevent crime.
Get on the crime map at CrimeReports.com
Due to a lack of a maintenance contract for New Orleans’ citywide camera network, many of the cameras are inoperable. But just how many is unknown. There seems to be a general disagreement about the actual number of cameras installed and the number in operation. The city recently began accepting bids for camera maintenance for 252 existing cameras; however, Mayor Ray Nagin recently told the press that there are 242 total cameras and that all are operational. In addition, the city’s top-ranking technology officer said there are only 218 cameras around the city and only half were working. As well, a city councilman reported that in some districts, 80 percent are working and in others only 20 percent.
The crime cameras have been a hot-button issue for local politicians and law enforcement as they are in any city where crime cameras are introduced into the community, especially considering their questionable ability to deter or prevent crime.
Search crime in your neighborhood at CrimeReports.com