Soon, nearly 800 cameras will be eyeing downtown Atlanta, all in the name of crime prevention. The City Council voted this week to add more than 100 cameras to those already in place. To the tune of $2.25 million, officials say these cameras will work to make tourists, students, and Atlanta residents feel safe.
The current system of cameras is being credited with helping lessen the crime rate, which is significantly lower than years past. When 2012 draws to a close, it’s expected that the city will have fewer than 100 homicides for the fourth year in a row. Since 2009, major felonies have dropped 16 percent, and 5 percent in just the last year.
Most of the new cameras are set to be installed in Zone 5, the police district including the Atlantic Station, the Georgia Dome, Georgia State, Georgia Tech, Midtown, and Downtown. About 20 will be installed throughout various zones in the city.
With these new additions, there will be a total of 762 feeding footage into the. The center, a clearinghouse for all of the camera footage, is located in the E911 Center downtown.
City officials are quick to point to the falling crime rate as evidence that the current cameras are working. But crime is falling nationwide—in places with and without cameras. As a matter of fact, as a whole, the nation is seeing crime rates it hasn’t seen since the days of Leave it to Beaver. But, you can’t tell that to the Police Department or Atlanta officials.
“This will give us more eyes on the streets so police can respond more readily,” said councilman Michael Julian Bond. Having more eyes is a strong deterrent. Criminals don’t want to be seen.”
The problem with this (very common) argument in favor of cameras is that criminals who don’t want to be seen can simply move down the block or around the corner from the cameras. And this is likely what they are doing. If someone is motivated to commit a crime, they will find a way to commit that crime.
As of yet, the city hasn’t released information on specific crimes that have been solved with the cameras, or real concrete proof that they can be credited with any drop in crime, let alone a drop that would justify spending millions on cameras to only further infringe on the people’s ability to come and go in their city without being recorded at every turn.
When it comes to criminal charges, the chances that you will be caught on video are rare. However, some evidence can be as good as video proof. In order to minimize the effects of these charges on your life, you need an advocate within the system. Whether you are charged with drug distribution or robbery—we may be able to help.