Thursday, January 8, 2009

Smile (and wave).....you're being watched!

With the recent increase in crime and gang activity in Calgary, the police department has decided to install over twenty video surveillance cameras in the downtown area to keep an "eye" on suspicious activity.

The folks at Calgary Police Services are inclined to believe that more cameras will translate into less crime. To say that this thinking is flawed would be an understatement.
There is no credible evidence that criminal activity slows down due to surveillance cameras. They install cameras in the downtown core and the gang members will move somewhere else.

The recent triple murder on new year's day - in broad daylight at a restaurant- is proof that gang members do not limit their activities to downtown Calgary. We cannot put up cameras everywhere and the taxpayers money could be better spent on something useful - like snow removal to prevent auto accidents!

Another component that concerns me is the invasion of privacy. Is there any guarantee that the video footage collected from these cameras would not be misused? There is growing evidence that the police in the U.S and Britain have used the
surveillance systems to send out tickets for traffic or by-law violations. In fact, I was told by one British visitor that after tourism, cameras are the second largest source of revenue for the London city government. So this apparatus is more like a cash cow for city councils than a detterent for crime.

Gangsters and drug dealers will eventually find a way to avoid these cameras, and the general public won't fee any safer. The best way to combat crime in this city is to change the criminal justice system and enact tougher laws to punish the crooks, instead of creating a totalitarian police state where big brother watches everything you do.


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