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Main Street surveillance not a deterrent

November 18, 2010
Lake Placid News
Big Brother has been watching for a long time now, as surveillance cameras are common in just about every big city and many of the stores we frequent. Like it or not, these cameras are a part of the world we live in.

Recently, the village of Lake Placid installed a surveillance camera on Main Street, and although it should contribute to the local crime-fighting effort in that it will help identify criminals after the fact, it will do little to prevent a crime. There is no substitute for a police

presence.

One reason is that people can’t tell that it is a camera perched upon the pole, unlike a traditional camera, which may act as a deterrent since people KNOW they are being watched. This appears to be a regular

transformer-type canister that are found on many telephone poles.

Signage to notify people that the area is under video surveillance would be a good start. If people knew they were being watched, they may not behave badly. It’s the same principle as the signs that warn “vehicles will be towed away at the owner’s expense.” That’s Fear Factor 101.

There are some people who are adamantly opposed to video surveillance, but it has proven to be successful when it comes to identifying those who break the law. We’d like to believe that crime is not prevalent in the Olympic Region, but alas there is no escape. There will indeed come a day when the camera will lead to the arrest of a true criminal — and when that day comes, those who were wronged will certainly praise the concept of surveillance.

The danger comes when we begin to rely on this

technology to fight crime. Those who leave the bars late at night in a drunken state are less apt to commit a crime when they see a police vehicle in the area. With a

camera, they won’t be deterred — and the goal should be to prevent crime — not react to it.

In the case of the camera on Main Street, it was installed following a complaint of a local hotel regarding noise from a night club across the street. But if the

camera isn’t picking up audio, what good will the

camera do? What crime will that particular camera really prevent? Only time will tell whether or not the cost of this camera was money well spent for the public good.

One thing is certain: there’s nothing that we can do to stem the tide of video surveillance. It is here to stay.

The best we can do is accept the technology and use it

to help make our area a better place to live.

Gone are the days when we’d laugh at the phrase “smile, you’re on Candid Camera.” So smile, and behave for the camera.

 
 

 

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