The City of Cincinnati already has plenty of cameras watching citizens as they come and go—118 to be exact. But the police department wants more, and has a goal of having 1,000 cameras trained on the area by the end of 2014.
The majority of these cameras will be paid for with federal grants and donations, says the department. They also hope to enlist the cooperation of other agencies to share existing cameras. Partnerships with the Cincinnati Public Schools and the Department of Transportation could result in the similar sharing of costs, says police Capt. Jeff Butler.
Butler, the departments planning resource and development commander, calls the department’s camera program one of the “most robust” in the country. And as for the research that says these cameras are only effective at invading privacy but not necessarily reducing crime, he says that’s simply not true. In addition, he offers many other potential uses for the cameras to come.
According to Cincinnati.com, Butler says the cameras can help with crowd control and to organize emergency responders. He also says that in addition to criminal cases, the cameras can be used “in training, like a football team analyzing a Sunday game on Monday morning.” That sounds all well and good, but the likelihood of CPD’s police cameras being used by local teams is pretty slim.
So far, and we are only in the beginning stages of the camera influx, the city’s police cameras have cost about $4.7 million. When you balance this with several studies over the last years showing that although crime is slightly reduced in areas where there are cameras, but no more so than in areas where lighting is improved, they seem a little pricey.
It would be remiss to discuss the crime prevention qualities (or lack of) of cameras without discussing displacement. When a camera is placed on a corner with a drug dealing problem, for instance, the drug dealers don’t change their career choice; they move to another corner. Unless we have cameras on every corner, alley, and around every building, this won’t change.
Still, Butler and many others like him would like nothing more than to have the entire city under the watchful eye of police. He even sat down with nuns at a convent across the river in Kentucky to discuss placing a camera on their property.
In the growing police state, it seems very much that we are getting closer and closer to a strict “us vs. them” mentality, with the them being police and arms of the government, and the us being anyone else without this power or connections.