Dr. Mike Gets Quoted On Surveillance Cameras

Dear Everyone;

In todays SF Chronicle there was a brief quote on Dr. Mike remarks against the cameras.

Ron Getty
SF Libertarian


Police Commission OKs more cameras -- 25 at 8 locations
Newsom's request for anti-crime devices passes 5-0
- Demian Bulwa, Chronicle Staff Writer
Thursday, January 18, 2007

The San Francisco Police Commission on Wednesday night approved Mayor Gavin Newsom's request to add surveillance cameras at eight additional high-crime street corners.
The 25 new cameras will be added to the 33 already in place at 14 locations.
After a four-hour City Hall hearing that drew more than 100 people, the commission voted 5-0 to approve the cameras, with two members absent. Members, though, conceded that they do not yet know whether the anti-crime cameras are effective. They expressed disappointment that the mayor's office had not provided more information about whether the existing cameras have deterred crime.
"I'm willing to give it a try as a pilot program to see if it works," said Commissioner David Campos, who said he was swayed by the dozens of residents asking for help fighting crime in their neighborhoods. Dozens of others spoke against the cameras.
The commission added a condition, requiring that the cameras be turned off during permitted, political demonstrations.
Police anti-crime cameras have become increasingly common around the Bay Area and the country in recent years, igniting a civil rights debate that is particularly sharp in San Francisco.
"Whose rights are important? Not the rights of those selling drugs and shooting people in our neighborhoods," Aleta Dwyer-Carpenter, 59, a property management director for the Chinatown Community Development Center, said in support of the program.
She said people already are photographed at sporting events, toll booths and public meetings.
"When you're out in the public, there is no expectation of privacy," Dwyer-Carpenter said. "This is 2007."
Among those speaking against the program was Michael Edelstein, a clinical psychologist from San Francisco. He said he believes the camera program takes policing in a dangerous direction.
"The most effective use of these cameras that I know of is in the novel '1984,' '' he said, adding that it's getting to the point where people are being watched 24 hours a day.
Newsom's camera program started in July 2005. So far, 33 cameras have been installed at 14 locations at a cost of nearly $500,000. The new proposal calls for an additional 25 cameras at eight hot spots for more than $275,000.
Police and foes of the cameras, including the American Civil Liberties Union, are sparring over whether they cut crime. Police say they do, but have not provided statistical evidence.
City records show police have viewed footage from the cameras only about twice a month since their installation in the Western Addition, the Tenderloin, Bayview and the Mission.
Just once has the footage identified a suspect, Deputy Police Chief Morris Tabak said this week. However, Tabak said the cameras have cut crime by deterring those who know they are being watched in their "comfort zone."
Due to privacy concerns, San Francisco is uniquely passive among cities with police cameras. Officers here don't monitor the cameras, and thus cannot steer them. They can request to view footage only if they believe a crime was caught on tape, inviting criticism from two sides of the debate: those who don't want the cameras at all, and those who believe the cameras can't succeed unless they are available for viewing in real time.
Allen Nance, acting director of the mayor's Office of Criminal Justice, said this week that preliminary crime data on camera sites show "sort of a mixed bag at this point. We're not at a point where we can conclude the cameras are an overwhelming success, or are not successful."
Nance said his office was seeking an "academic partner" to help prepare a report on the cameras' effectiveness. An ordinance passed by the Board of Supervisors in June requires that police file annual reports detailing crime trends and explaining how investigators used camera footage.
E-mail Demian Bulwa at dbulwa@....