Atlanta leads the way in “Southern Surveillance”

Atlanta is fast becoming as infatuated with surveilling its citizenry with federally-subsidized cameras, as many of its sister cities in the north, like New York and Chicago. “Southern hospitality” is becoming Southern Surveillance.

Just last week, for example, it was reported here in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the Atlanta Police Department plans soon to open a largely federally-funded, “video integration center.” This high-tech center will allow officers to monitor hundreds of surveillance cameras placed around the city, including images provided by cameras run by private entities and non-police governmental agencies.

Other cities around the nation – including New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and the District of Columbia – have blanketed their cities with surveillance cameras in similar fashion. However, actual results of surveillance networks in those cities have been mixed, at best.

In 2009, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley proudly declared that by 2016 there would be “a camera on every corner” of the city. His efforts to win the “Big Brother” award have been noted by former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, who told the Associated Press, “I don’t think there is another city in the U.S. that has as an extensive and integrated camera network as Chicago has.” But the more than $60 million price tag that has come with the title of “most closely watched U.S. city,” has not benefitted Chicago as much as Daley and company would have us believe.

The Illinois American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conducted an extensive study of the Windy City’s massive, surveillance-camera network. The recently-published report found little evidence that the 10,000-plus camera network is truly deterring crime or simply shifting it to other areas.

Certainly, the raw numbers are not that impressive, as Steve Chapman pointed out last May in his column at the Chicago Tribune. Chapman noted, “Chicago police say the cameras have produced 4,000 arrests since 2006. That sounds like a lot, but it works out to only about 1 in 200 arrests. And for 10,000 cameras, 4,000 arrests [over more than four years] is not really a spectacular haul.”

Studies of surveillance systems in other cities have yielded similar, mediocre results. According to a 2009 report from the Washington City Paper, a Freedom of Information Act request by the ACLU forced police in the District of Columbia to admit that surveillance, “had not contributed to a single arrest.”

A 2008 study into the effectiveness of cameras in San Francisco by the University of California-Berkeley, found that “footage has assisted the SFPD in charging a suspect with a crime in six cases” over a three-year period. The study also found “limited success” in cases where the cameras acted as a “silent witness.”

Our friends across the Pond in the United Kingdom also have become infatuated with video surveillance. It is estimated there are over a million cameras in place in London. Despite such an overwhelming police-state presence, the Cato Institute’s David Rittgers points out that, “[r]oughly 80% of the crime in London goes unsolved.” In fact, an internal police audit covered by BBC News showed that only one crime was solved per 1,000 cameras in the city.

It is true that cameras occasionally may assist in identifying criminals after the fact; but there is little evidence to support claims that these vast surveillance systems, monitoring everyone who comes within their view, are having more than a negligible impact in actually reducing crime.

Before Atlanta spends more money trying to emulate Chicago, city leaders should carefully weigh the costs to taxpayers associated with expanding these vast surveillance systems that are simply not producing a measurable benefit. It may make citizens feel safer, and offer the appearance that city leaders are “doing something” about crime, but that false sense of security comes at a very high price in dollars and loss of privacy.

-by Bob Barr, The Barr Code

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The watching eye

February 21st, 2011
6:56 am

The conclusion “video analytics”, where a computer screens many cameras and reports probability of a crime in progress, only one person need be involved in monitoring.. Chicago has hired IBM to install “video analytic systems”. Video analytics is the key to the success of camera systems.
As of now, manpower is needed to monitor systems, driving up the cost of video surveillance. It is tedious, tiring and difficult for a person to analyze just what is going on in congested areas, “video analytics” does it effectively in a much quicker time frame.

Tim

February 21st, 2011
7:02 am

I can’t wait to get my chip implanted so the gov. can follow my every move.

sean Yankee

February 21st, 2011
7:39 am

Ah the daily dose of paranoia from Mr. Barr

Thou shall not encroach

February 21st, 2011
7:49 am

Perhaps the over-basted Mr Barr is concerned that the average video camera adds at least ten pounds to his U-tube image. Perhaps Mr Barr should be more concerned with asking his inner chicken-little tuff questions instead of grilling it. Not everything is about food, sir. Notice that the bitterly-partisan Barr gives not a nod 2 Michelle-O for her heatlhy eating campaign. His reason is unseasoned. His blurbs unherbed.

It’s hard for me to imagine a mind that continues to fixate on the same theme. He actually texted the phrase “Big Brother”. Again.

Joel Edge

February 21st, 2011
8:10 am

I seem to remember an article by a British author noting that the explosion of cameras in London had little to no effect on crime. If you start looking at the money paid for these systems, it’s not about security, it’s handing money off to cronies. More government waste.

Carlosgvv

February 21st, 2011
8:44 am

I wonder if this just an easy way for politicans and police to proudly proclaim how tough on crime they are when in reality this is just window dressing that accomplishes little or nothing. How about reducing the bloated staffs of City and County Governments and hiring more police officers.

Eric

February 21st, 2011
8:50 am

To “Thou shall . . .,” the term Big Brother is still quite appropriate, and everyone knows what it means. Why create new terminology? What Mr. Barr does so well is to keep the topic (citizens’ alert, if you will) going. If he doesn’t write about this, who will? The thought of me at the park on a date on a Sunday afternoon being watched BY ANYONE is highly disturbing/distressing. I would care less about feeling as feeling annoyed at the intrusion.

Eric

February 21st, 2011
8:51 am

That is to say, “care less about feeling safe than feeling intruded upon.”

Supreme Being

February 21st, 2011
8:57 am

The funds for this camera system are necessacry to monitor the trolley system that is going to be built to the King Center with all that stimulus money. Then we will have video evidence of what a waste of money the trolley is. Like Carlos says…lets take an ax to the bloated staffs and put more cops in the streets. But, such an effort would require common sense.

Ricky McCary

February 21st, 2011
9:01 am

Hmmm. From 30,000 feet, worrying about this ’surveillance’ is a tempest in a teapot. If the city of Atlanta manages this activity like they do most everything else in the city, city services, repairs, activities in other departments, including the Atlanta Police Department, et al, it’ll take years to put this togehter and deal with the monitoring. Find something more important to worry about. Life actually running the city.

Chainz

February 21st, 2011
9:03 am

Bottom line …..the system is only as good as the people watching the camera’s…….. In ATL that translates to why bother….. Have you heard how well 911 works…. it’s a joke………

SaveOurRepublic

February 21st, 2011
9:08 am

Tim @ 7:02 AM EST (2/21) – Not so far from the (forthcoming) truth. In my estimation, it’s (indeed) within the Globalist Elites’ agenda for (eventual) mandatory bio-chip implants. It’ll probably be mandated via martial law (following another false-flag op). The Orwellian police-state is growing at a rapid pace, as our Constitutional rights fall by the wayside.

roughrider

February 21st, 2011
9:11 am

The government should put camera’s in each new car, and each new house so they won’t miss anything. Then if that doesn’t work, when a person renews their driver’s license, they can have a tracking chip implanted.

StJ

February 21st, 2011
9:32 am

“More cameras, less crime”…yeah, who didn’t see this result coming? And some wonder why we don’t want government involved in health care?

brad

February 21st, 2011
9:45 am

Always a complaint, never a proposed solution. What the hell, government sucks so bad we should just privatize law enforcement. It’s working so well in Iraq, right? Blackwater, anyone? John Galt had an AK47, I’m sure.

@ save our Republic

February 21st, 2011
9:49 am

I’m a Libertarian-leaning conservative, but I gotta say that your version of paranoia gives the rest of us a bad name. “Globalist Elites”? “Mandatory bio-chip implants”? “another false-flag op”?. Put on your tin hat and take your meds, dude. The rest of us have a life to live.

[...] Atlanta leads the way in “Southern Surveillance” | The Barr Code [...]

Deano

February 21st, 2011
10:04 am

Only you criminals have anything to worry about. The rest of us law abiding citizens love having video evidence of your crimes. Anyone who thinks a camera everywhere is a bad idea is a cringing snool.

RIGHTISWRONG

February 21st, 2011
10:16 am

Bob, you just don’t want them to get you and your boyfriend on camera! lol
Deano I FULLY agree with you. Get over it. This is a great tool and camera’s were the way
that APD found the thugs that killed the guy in Midtown, as he and his girlfriend ran away.
What cowards and thugs! Now largely because of cameras, these guys will face justice.
Shut up Bab I mean Bob. Go dig into your past so you can come back and tell us why you
have a nappy headed grey AFRO!

Anon

February 21st, 2011
10:20 am

I don’t understand why Mr. Barr is so concerned with arguing that these systems are not effective…it seems like they would be MORE of a concern if they were resulting in many arrests.

snafu

February 21st, 2011
10:47 am

Deano:
Only you criminals have anything to worry about. The rest of us law abiding citizens love having video evidence of your crimes. Anyone who thinks a camera everywhere is a bad idea is a cringing snool.

The criminal don’t have to worry about a thing for they are doing what they want to do, its you stupid people who are afraid of your own shadows that allow this nonsense to continue. Banks have camera..still have bank robbers..now what. I guess you want a camera in your bathroom so the gov can tell if you are regular or need more fiber. Geezz..people are so da..mn stupid.

snafu

February 21st, 2011
10:52 am

Roughrider..LMAO..but you know insurance companies are lobbying for the black boxes to monitor your driving habits so they can get more premiums out of you. And to think that people have voted for these crooks who are churning out laws against the people…whewww dumbing down Amerryca!!!

Corey

February 21st, 2011
11:11 am

I don’t know if cameras will necessarily prevent crime, but we have seen how cameras have helped Atlanta police find and apprehend high profile criminals recently. The VA Highland killing being one such case. Another case being MARTA tracking down the the Peach Drop slaying suspect. I also wonder if the bad guys watch the news? Daily we see stories of people committing brazen acts right in front of cameras. You would think these individuals know they are on camera.

Corey

February 21st, 2011
11:35 am

StJ, I tell you what. Let’s do away with the health care bill, and you visit your doctor once too often and your insurance company decides you’ve exceeded your limit and refuses to pay for that extra visit to the doctor. Maybe the Tea Party will pick up the tab. I am a veteran and love my government run healthcare that you pay for. When I pull up to the Atlanta VA I get valet parking. They even mail me my meds. When I check in at the clinic a sign reads, “If You Have Not Been Called 15 Mins. Into You Appointment Contact The Customer Service Manager.” I get to shop in the mini canteen and not have to pay sales tax. I had surgery a few years ago and the only form I signed was a consent form. No claim forms or any of the myriad of other forms to comb through from an insurance company. If you are happy with the status quo fight like hell to maintain and all the trappings that come with it, and when the big, glamorous insurance company abuses you once too often don’t go running to the big, bad, scary intrusive government for redress. Go one step further. When you are old enough for Medicare tell the government, “No thanks.”

Carlosgvv

February 21st, 2011
11:35 am

Supreme Being

And we all know that among politicians, common sense is anything but common.

Joel 6-pack

February 21st, 2011
11:58 am

Barr “sneers” at 4000 arrests as “mediocre”. Compared to what, 4000 fewer arrests? Sounds worthwhile to me. Last time I checked cameras don’t have to be paid retirement benefits that are literally destroying our city budget. But then again, as are all these political columns, Barr’s job is to be deliberately confrontational.

SaveOurRepublic

February 21st, 2011
12:16 pm

“@ save our Republic” @ 9:49 AM EST (2/21) – Perhaps you should stop buying the rhetoric & fluff spoonfed by the (controlled) “mainstream” media & conduct some further research. If you think for one second the puppets on “Crapitol sHill” are truly calling the shots, I have some ocean front property to sell you (in Arizona). Do a little homework & de-sheeplize yourself.

Jillian Galloway

February 21st, 2011
12:52 pm

It’s ironic that our law enforcement personnel and legislators are the most paranoid people in the country.

Marijuana has been repeatedly proven to NOT cause cancer, heart disease, brain damage, liver disease, emphysema, or overdoses, and its addictive potential is about on par with coffee. The DEA is 100% misinformed when it calls marijuana “extremely harmful”!

The marijuana prohibition empowers drug dealers and cartels, and makes our children LESS safe! Because of the failings of the prohibition, our children now have easier access to marijuana than to alcohol! We parents have been patient long enough, we must speak up and demand that marijuana be legally sold to adults in gas stations and supermarkets just as beer and wine are today!

We need laws based on logic, not ideology! We need to put an end to Richard Nixon’s marijuana prohibition and Legalize Adult Marijuana Sales!!

backwards is the new forwards

February 21st, 2011
12:59 pm

@BobBarr are there any statistics on the reduction on the Crime Rate? And not just convictions? The whole point of surveillance or any security is deterrence not apprehension. Perhaps you can elaborate on that, rather than produce evidence to support your own beliefs.

@SaveOurRepublic 12:16PM Isn’t Fox News the new “mainstream” media?

Borat

February 21st, 2011
2:07 pm

Meeestur Bob….speaking of cameras and peeektures…you must do something about that horrible peekture of you on deez page. You look like you are tasting a canary and wearing an ascot. Now say cheeeze :-)

Ragnar Danneskjöld

February 21st, 2011
2:32 pm

Interesting argument, not sure exactly what I think. Goodness knows that Atlanta is a gangsta paradise, and there is little doubt in my mind that people behave better when they are watched. Equally certain that I would not wish to live in such a poliz-stat, and of course I don’t. Could be that Atlanta is getting the government it deserves. I think this is an area where state legislation, either way, is inappropriate.

Washington, the white one

February 21st, 2011
2:49 pm

All Points Bulletin, APB:

Case # 3d4893b607d

Big Brother is watching Carlosgvv and all of his aliases.

Status: Active

david

February 21st, 2011
3:00 pm

I hope they aren’t near the sttrip clubs as there are some things wives don’t need to know about if you catch my drift!

david

February 21st, 2011
3:01 pm

That was I hope those cameras aren’t located near the strip clubs.

luangtom

February 21st, 2011
3:07 pm

Cameras deterring crime is about like the TSA stopping terrorists. It is not going to happen. Crime will not be stopped. It will be recorded. It will not be stopped. How long before it is analyzed and then acted upon? The perp could be in another state by the time it is offered up for evidence. This is just another feel-good ploy by government to show its citizens that they are doing something to make them safe. It, like the TSA, is a dispersal of funds down the chain to vendors that have ties to government. Monies spent on such systems would be better spent re-opening the boys and girls clubs and investing in their futures, rather than reacting to their misbehavior. What a waste…………

[...] Atlanta leads the way in “Southern Surveillance”Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog)In 2009, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley proudly declared that by 2016 there would be “a camera on every corner” of the city. His efforts to win the “Big Brother” award have been noted by former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, … [...]

ImpeachBob

February 21st, 2011
3:54 pm

Impeach Bob Barranoia. Then convict him for opening his mouth.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by LPGeorgia, Patrik Jonsson. Patrik Jonsson said: Bob Barr: Atlanta leads the way in “Southern Surveillance." http://t.co/1dpEvP2 [...]

Carlosgvv

February 21st, 2011
4:31 pm

Washington, the white one

Let me guess. You are one of these mindless Tea-Party people easily swayed by Republican propaganda and lies.

Deano

February 21st, 2011
4:39 pm

Snafu, your name says it all.

Deano

February 21st, 2011
4:45 pm

BTW Snafu, there are have been “black boxes” in cars since the ninety’s. They record our speed, seatbelt use, oil changes etc. at the time of an accident and the insurance companies have been using this data for two decades to not pay you idiot drivers.

I'm breaking up

February 21st, 2011
5:37 pm

Just another reason to avoid downtown atlanta……

Bingo

February 21st, 2011
5:46 pm

snafu sounds like the type (of criminal) that wants the gubmint to stay out of his daily affairs except when it comes to mailing him his welfare check on a regular basis. snafu u b dumbing down Amerryca!!!

Geezz..snafu so da..mn stupid.

Washington, the white one

February 21st, 2011
5:49 pm

Big Brother is watching you:

Case # 3RFID3113XX

On February 21, 1965, in Manhattan’s Audubon Ballroom, Malcolm X began to speak to a meeting of the Organization of Afro-American Unity when a disturbance broke out in the crowd of 400. A man yelled, “N…..! Get your hand outta my pocket!” As Malcolm X and his bodyguards moved to quiet the disturbance, a man rushed forward and shot him in the chest with a sawed-off shotgun. Two other men charged the stage and fired handguns, hitting him 16 times.

Status: Inactive

Bingo

February 21st, 2011
5:49 pm

Carlosgvv

Let me guess. You are one of these illegal aliens

Carlosgvv

February 21st, 2011
6:06 pm

Bingo

With you I don’t need guessing. Your common ignorance shines thru for all to see. And I am not a hispanic.

Dr. Pangloss

February 21st, 2011
6:53 pm

Cameras may not prevent crime, but do they send it somewhere else? Are many criminals dumb enough to commit a crime with a camera pointed at them, or do they go somewhere without a camera to commit their misdeeds? If the latter, you could increase your personal safety by going where the cameras are. Has there been a study about this? Are there any LEOs out there who can comment?

MrLiberty

February 21st, 2011
7:15 pm

Once again, simple solution. End the Fed. Without the Federal Reserve freely printing money to satify the totalitarian whims of our masters, there would be no money to spend on this crap. This of course is not about security, unless you count the retirement security of the firms selling the cameras and equipment to the goons who infest our government. Oooh. Better watch out. Someone is probably watching me write this.

End the Fed. A government that lives within its means does not have the money to spy on everyone.

snoortz

February 21st, 2011
7:25 pm

gw and the neocons spout what’s the big dealio if you ain’t got nothin’ hide. gawd bless.