The tragedy at the Boston Marathon has given a boost to camera companies across America. With the help of a street camera the FBI were able to apprehend the criminal. While they may work well in stopping terrorists, they work poorly in stopping street crime. Yet this is what they are being sold for.
In Rochester we have a long tradition of street camera. These cameras are often called the blue light cameras. They have been installed at troubled street corners to combat street drug sales and they have reduced sales on the corners they are placed but the dealers have only moved a block away.
It is interesting that our last two police chiefs have argued that these cameras do not stop crime. Chief Sheppard has publicly said many times that the criminals know where the cameras are and just move out of the eye of the camera. At most times as many as a quarter of all the cameras are in need of repair. Further there are only two people who watch all the cameras in the city.
Let us also consider the cost of this program. There are two officers, hundreds of cameras, and an expensive maintenance program which we have to pay for. All to inconvenience a few criminals. This is not improving our city and has not decreased crime. It is time we concentrate the money on programs that really reduce crime.