Thursday, December 08, 2011

Big Brother arrives in Toledo; smile -you're on camera!

Yesterday, I received a press release from the City of Toledo informing me of a press conference with new Toledo Police Chief Derrick Diggs. I wasn't exactly sure what was being announced, so I didn't post it. Here is what it said:

Toledo Police Chief Derrick Diggs will announce a new data driven policing model at a press conference at 3 p.m. today, December 7, 2011 on the 3rd floor the Safety Building.

The initiative involves a process for systematically collecting and analyzing data to strategically direct manpower to suppress crime in identified problem areas. The initiative also involves the utilization of the CompStat model to track progress and ensure accountability. Additionally, it will include a Real Time Crime Center that will utilize cameras as a deterrent and investigative tool for the apprehension of suspects involved in criminal behavior.

The bottom line is that Toledo wants to install a bunch of cameras around town (75) to monitor and record - well, pretty much everything. They're even considering getting some that can recognize the sound of a gunshot and then focus upon the location of the sound.

Of course, Chief Diggs says this is all about keeping us safe and moving the department from just responding to crime and then investigating it to attempting to deter or even suppress crime. While the locations of the cameras haven't been determined, they are planned for high-crime areas.

You and I know that the cameras won't really suppress crime - the criminals will just commit the crimes elsewhere.

Chief Diggs said he's modeling his plan on the cameras being used in Memphis. With relatives in Memphis, I can tell you that the cameras haven't really allowed the police to 'deter' or 'suppress' crime.

The funding for the initial purchase and set up would come from the Law Enforcement Trust Fund, the monies the department has confiscated from crimes. But there is no mention of the on-going maintenance costs and whether or not there is funding for those.

Apparently, the Real Time Crime Center would be staffed with officers to watch everything that's going on and 'respond' accordingly. But with the decrease in the number of officers we have on the streets over the last several years, some may question this plan.

It's not often I find myself in agreement with the ACLU, but they've weighed in on the plan calling it "Big Brother 24/7."

The usual claims in support of 24/7 surveillance - like the ones made in favor of red-light cameras - will be used: it will keep us safe; if we're not doing anything wrong, we won't have anything to worry about; it's for our own good; if it saves just one life.

Think about it, by the time camera hears a gunshot and zooms in on the source of the sound, you're already shot, perhaps dead. So much for "keeping you safe."

Besides, I don't care about those claims - government always makes such claims when infringing upon our liberties.

I just go back to the quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin:

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

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