Sunday, January 11, 2009

Study: San Francisco Spy Cameras No Help in Reducing Violent Crime

Robert Selna and Demian Bulwa write in The San Francisco Chronicle:

A long-awaited study of San Francisco's installation of surveillance cameras in high-crime areas shows that the effort fails in its stated purpose of reducing homicide and other violent crime, but the cameras are useful in reducing such offenses as burglary, pickpocketing and purse-snatching.

The study found that the program, started by Mayor Gavin Newsom in 2005, is hampered by a lack of training and oversight, a failure to integrate footage with other police tactics, inadequate technology, and what may be fundamental weaknesses of cameras as devices to stop violent crime.

The 184-page study, which was called for by the Board of Supervisors in 2006, was conducted by the UC Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society. It represents one of the most thorough reports on public surveillance, a trend that has swept the nation in recent years.

San Francisco's camera program is different from other cities because, in a nod to privacy concerns, police in San Francisco are not allowed to monitor cameras in real time; investigators must instead order footage after a crime is reported.

More here.


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