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Here's Looking at You: Electronic Surveillance Systems Make Some Law-Abiding Citizens Feel Safer, They Make Others Very Nervous

NCJ Number
Governing Volume: 15 Issue: 11 Dated: August 2002 Pages: 44-45
Anya Sostek
Peter A. Harkness
Date Published
August 2002
2 pages
This article discusses the issues that surround the installation of video cameras in public places.
Based on the fact that electronic surveillance systems make some law-abiding citizens feel safer while they make others very nervous, this article discusses the fact that silent video surveillance is constitutional as long as citizens do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy. The installation in Washington DC of a network of more than 14 high-tech video cameras is discussed, including the reasoning and cost involved. The concern of misuse of the video tapes by the Government is discussed as a major concern of those opposing their installation. Also, the cost of installing video surveillance can be equal to half of the annual salary of a new police recruit, raising the question of whether it would not be more important to, instead, hire more police. In England, surveillance cameras were credited with a 19 percent decline in street crime nationwide between 1993 and 1996. However, street crime in London has increased by 40 percent in the past years. Thus the effectiveness of the cameras is being questioned once again. In conclusion, it is noted that often the presence of surveillance cameras gives tourists a feeling of confidence and thus the cameras' presence provides a less tangible effect than the reduction of the crime rate.