D.C. Crime Cameras: ‘A Joke'

D.C. Crime Cameras: ‘A Joke’ was originally published on City Desk on Feb. 12, 2009, at 2:50 pm

This week, Washington City Paper published a fine takedown on all those D.C. Police crime cameras you see everywhere. As a back-up reporter for the piece, I got to interview a number of cops on the subject. Are these cameras worth the money? Do they help solve crimes?

One aggressive cop I talked to was just blunt about crime cameras. “It usually never captures anything because it slowly moves around,” the cop said. “The whole thing is kind of a joke."

Another cop, a police official, was more kind to Big Brother. “They’re fantastic at capturing,” the official said. “It’s evidence that they didn’t capture before. It’s always a little bit extra. There’s cameras all over the place. Better to have them then not have them.”

And finally, a retired cop, Lt. Michael Smith, says the cameras have one major flaw. “The biggest problem [is] that the cameras are not monitored as closely,” Smith explains. “Nobody is sitting there actually looking at the screen controlling them. You only get bits and pieces.”

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