San Fransisco has installed high tech (and expensive) camera to monitor many areas of the city. A long awaited study on the effectiveness of the cameras has been completed, and the result is that the cameras did nothing to reduce violent crime:
Cameras don’t deter violent crime
The 184 page report rather succinctly stated the cameras failure to reduce the amount of violent crime committed in the city:
“We find no evidence of an impact of (the cameras) on violent crime,” “Violent incidents do not decline in areas near the cameras relative to areas further away (and) we observe no decline in violent crimes occurring in public places.”
The report went on to say that much violent crime is “committed outside the bounds of rationality,” which means that violent criminals are often not deterred by the prospect of being caught. Instead, violent criminals tend to live for the moment, and cannot be expected to act with even their own self interests in mind. As expected, such criminals won’t have any greater concern for their victims wellbeing, either.
The report went on to speculate that the cameras might also be ineffective because there is no immediate negative consequence for a criminal who commits a crime in front of the cameras. Instead, one who commits a crime in front of a camera might only feel the effect months or years later, if the evidence is ever used against them. Since the police were only able to point to 6 cases in which footage from the cameras had led to charges being brought, the connection between committing violent crime in front of a camera and being punished as a result is even more tenuous.
Cameras don’t stop in-progress crime
Even the most vocal supporters of such police cameras will admit that the goal of the such cameras is not to stop crimes that are in progress. Instead, such cameras can, at best, help police identify and prosecute the perpetrator. However such later action on the part of the police or prosecutors doesn’t really do the crime victim much good – especially if the the victim is murdered. Nor can the police be counted upon to stop crimes while they are in progress, even if one is just 150 feet from the police station, as they usually just can’t get there in time. That is why self defense remains the best solution, and often the only solution when faced with a violent criminal.
My thanks to Anders for pointing out this police camera effectiveness study.