LETTER: Cameras will catch latte sippers, not criminals

Wednesday, March 24, 2010 | 9:14 p.m. CDT; updated 3:11 p.m. CDT, Saturday, March 27, 2010

COLUMBIA — I lived and worked in The District for three years before leaving Columbia in December to pursue other career goals. I may very likely move back in the next few months. I have always considered the place "home," especially the streets downtown and have never once felt threatened or uneasy. In fact, downtown Columbia is one of the most unique, friendly, and safest places in America.

More crime — vandalism, robbery, harassment, and physical violence — occurs outside of the The District, in neighborhoods such as East Campus and north-central Columbia.

That is why it baffles me to find out about Proposition 1 — that people actually believe there is a legitimate reason to pay for cameras to watch them walk around and shop or grab a latte at a coffee shop or go out for dinner. Proposition 1 is absurd, and from what I understand, is supported more by people who live and work outside of The District, visiting perhaps two or three times per week, rather than the community of people who live, work and play in downtown Columbia every day. They are the ones who should decide whether or not cameras are necessary.

How many of the supporters of Proposition 1 would vote for cameras in their own backyards on Scott Boulevard or Stewart Road?

I will return to Columbia on April 6 to exercise my right as a locally registered voter and vote NO for Proposition 1.

Nick Pretnar is the former manager of Lakota Coffee. He currently lives in Hillsboro, Illinois.

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Liz Mitchell March 25, 2010 | 10:33 a.m.

Thank you, Nicholas! I've expressed my opposition to Prop 1 already, but I hadn't mentioned before that I live in North Central. I've lived in Columbia for 25 years. The ONLY time I've ever been threatened on the street was by a 30-something white male in North Central while walking home late at night last summer. And I drove him off with little difficulty. I still feel safe in my own neighborhood and I feel quite safe in the District. I shop and dine in the District all the time. However, I would actually be likely to do so far less often, if at all if Prop 1 passes.

Nicholas makes a great point. Maybe if we are to install surveillance cameras in the District, we should require cameras everywhere else in Columbia. If we install cameras in only one area, won't crime merely migrate to other neighborhoods? Besides, then I could request footage from other areas of Columbia to see what others are up to!

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