According to a report in The Oregonian this past week, TriMet, the state’s largest transit agency will be using $1.9 million in federal dollars to increase the number of cameras in their light-rail stations. According to the report, nearly every step people take now at 74 out of 84 platforms will be seen by these eyes in the sky.
TriMet is meeting with resistance as they make plans to install the cameras as such anti-crime cameras have shown mixed results in cities around the world. TriMet points to a 19% drop overall in crimes on their platforms in 2009 but critics state this is not necessarily due to the cameras themselves.
The goal of such cameras is to make would-be criminals think twice before robbing someone or committing another offense. Called deterrence, this sort of crime prevention is a goal of law enforcement everywhere. So, does it work? Not likely.
If someone is motivated to commit a robbery, they will very seldom let something like a camera stop them. However, if they are caught, they may have wished the deterrent effect worked better as they face years behind bars and fines to go with it.
The chances of these cameras solving a crime after the fact are pretty slim. Surveillance networks like this are frequently plagued with problems and they probably stand more chance of deterring than playing a role in solving.
Despite this, cities across the country are increasing the numbers of high tech surveillance devices on red lights, in public places, and even worn on the police to record every encounter.
Whether you were arrested for something that was caught on camera or if someone accused you of something illegal, even when the odds are stacked against you, there may still be options available.