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Downtown cameras: Working out great…NOT !!

By   /   October 29, 2009  /   Comments

We’ve been told that cameras in downtown Albany help make us safer. We’ve been told that cameras in downtown Albany help solve crimes. We’ve been told that cameras in downtown Albany are essential to public safety.

And yet, not a single crime has been solved with these wasteful components. Color me shocked.

I’ve been opposed to cameras from the get-go. Personally, I see them as the inevitable result of a government that views George Orwell’s classic 1984 as a guidebook, rather than a warning. The fact that so far they’ve done nothing except waste money and spy on law-abiding citizens. Not that I’m surprised.

You see, the few cameras we have in downtown Albany isn’t even a drop in the bucket compared to London, England which is generally considered the community with the most cameras anywhere in the world. The result of all those cameras? A recent study shows that only one out of 1,000 crimes is solved with the help of cameras. Now, these are constantly monitored where ours aren’t, and they’re pretty much as ineffective as our own cameras.

Instead, I’m going to posit an idea. The cameras aren’t really there to solve crimes or address any real public safety concerns. In fact, downtown Albany is actually one of the safest areas in town. The real reason for the cameras is that big cities have them. That simple.

While the City Commission rationalized and theorized, the simple fact was that Albany had to have cameras because bigger cities have them and Albany just can’t stand it not to have the latest gadget. Who cares if it’s a waste of taxpayer money? I mean, they’re just so totally awesome! We just gotta have more!

Seriously, it sounds like my kid with those Bakugan things he’s kind of obsessed with. Despite the fact that he doesn’t actually use them for their intended purpose, he wants more and more. Kind of like the City of Albany and their toys. At least I can get my son to take out the trash in return for Bakugan. What do we get out of the City of Albany and their fascination with cameras that don’t really do anything they’re supposed to do?

Now, I’ve been asked before what the difference was between a police officer and a camera. Well, the fact is that a police officer is trained to know what to look for, and can focus on those most likely to stir up trouble. Not only that, but they can actually … you know … arrest someone if they break the law. Funny how that works, ain’t it?

Some may say that cameras deter crime. My response is “how”? We’ve had high profile fights at the Civic Center, despite the cameras. Of course, the cameras weren’t looking at the Civic Center so they were about as much help as a football bat. They haven’t seem to deter a thing. In fact, the deterrence argument sounds an awful lot Obama’s “jobs saved” numbers. There’s zero proof that it’s deterred a damn thing, but the argument will continue to be made.

Just like a kid with a toy though, the City will inevitably argue for more cameras, despite the fact that they haven’t actually accomplished anything. But in the City of Albany, a track record isn’t really necessary, is it?

tomknightonWritten by Tom Knighton. Read his blog at SWGA Politics.com. A lifelong political junkie, Tom started out his adult life as a journalism major at Darton College before leaving school to serve his nation as a U.S. Navy Corpsman. Through the years, he has watched government from outside and inside. A former Reagan supporter, then later a Democrat, Tom now finds himself quite comfortable as a card carrying Libertarian and all around smart-elec.

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