It’s a sign of the times—even smaller cities are getting their share of police surveillance cameras. Despite criticism and privacy concerns, cities across the state are being littered with cameras that record everything, all in hopes of preventing crime or catching bad guys. But, are they worth the effort? Toledo Police seem to think so.
“Since we’ve had those up, I don’t think we’ve had one [break-in] over there,” said Toledo police Sgt. Joe Heffernan of the cameras at Westfield Franklin Park Mall. “We were having four or so a day.”
Two portable surveillance cameras were installed just before Black Friday at the mall. One has already been moved, the one in the parking lot across from the Talmadge side of the mall. David Joseph of Joeseph’s Beverage Center said he didn’t think the camera was in place long enough to make any difference, but he also has his own surveillance system—a total of 32 cameras in and outside of his store.
Heffernan says that no crimes have been captured by the cameras, but insists that the footage collected has been important in investigations. One camera, at North Huron Street and Jefferson Avenue, for example, saw a bank robbery suspect run away from the scene of a crime. The police were able to see which way he ran, though they have not located or identified the suspect. Still, Heffernan says the camera footage could be helpful at some point.
As for the criticism, many people say police cameras like these simply displace crime, or send it to another, unmonitored area. Interestingly, Heffernan says that displacement still leads to reduced crime (though we aren’t sure how).
“You have to continue to monitor the situation,” he said. “And, if other locations become problem locations, you adjust it appropriately.” Heffernan’s reasoning implies that the cameras should be moved from place to place as crime moves. While the new locations could benefit for a short amount of time from the new cameras, once they are moved, it would seem, the crime would be displaced right back to where the cameras came from.
In all, the city has $1.6 million approved for the surveillance camera project. Currently, 80 cameras are being installed in 40 locations. In phase two of the program, another 70 to 80 cameras are planned. However, if the cameras prove to be as costly and ineffective as some other cities are finding them, the surveillance system could be short-lived.
If you are caught on camera committing a crime, it can be tough and pretty unconvincing to say you weren’t there, that you didn’t do it. But these cameras rarely catch people in the act. Instead, criminal charges are filed on the basis of other evidence. Whether you are facing charges of theft, robbery, or a drug offense, you need a local attorney well-versed in the local system. Contact our offices today for a consultation on your case.