LETTER: Security cameras vital to law enforcement

Thursday, March 25, 2010 | 4:38 p.m. CDT

The recent issue of security cameras has sure been a “hot topic” in Columbia. I usually take the philosophy of “water seeks its own level,” and generally the voters in elections make good, informed choices. The issue at hand is either correctly passed or correctly defeated, or the best candidate is elected, and the least desirable candidate(s) are defeated. In debates over security cameras I have heard so much incorrect or flawed information that I thought it best (and for the first time I can recall) to write a letter to the editor.

For a little over 30 years now, I have been in law enforcement in Columbia and have had countless experiences with criminal investigations and extensive training in the field of crime prevention. This has been my profession for over three decades. Without hesitation and unequivocally, I support security cameras. It is almost hard to believe or even comprehend that there are those in our community who vote for elected officials that have taken a position of being against this issue.

In my current position, we make arrests on at least a weekly basis off evidence we gather from security cameras. Let me repeat that. We make arrests very frequently, which without the evidence from security cameras would most likely have never occurred. We have also had a number of instances where security cameras have proven that reported crimes did not happen. In addition, I have heard suspects say they target or pick areas to commit crimes where they know there are not security cameras present.

It is also notable that over the years security cameras have been instrumental in proving suicides were not homicides. So, it has been somewhat frustrating to hear those who do not have firsthand experience in the field of policing/law enforcement make statements saying security cameras are not effective. They are extremely effective, to say the least! When placed in public areas, they are not unconstitutional. They are an invaluable tool for law enforcement to help solve and prevent crime.

Community policing is almost common terminology in our times now, and security cameras are an excellent example of it. Community policing means the community is the police, and one of the things the community can do now is support Proposition 1, which will be one more spoke in the wheel to help prevent and solve crime.

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Liz Mitchell March 25, 2010 | 4:59 p.m.

The perceived "problem" of crime in the District is not really much of a problem. However, if we go down the surveillance road, I want the first cameras installed on the public streets in front of Prop 1 proponents houses. Once they get their cameras, starting with Mr. Schwandt's, then Mr. Krespohl's (since he's been such a critic of Mr. Skala for voting against them in the City Council), I'd like to use my rights as a citizen to employ the Sunshine Laws to see what these folks are up to that might make them think these cameras are such a great idea. They certainly cannot have read the stories in the British Press where it was revealed that in London only one arrest was made for each 1000 cameras in any given year. But what the hey, let's spend $50k per camera anyway! Particularly when there is a need for more police officers in other parts of the City of Columbia where crime rates are actually higher. By all means! Let's spy on people who work, shop, and enjoy refreshments and the art scene in the District! Let's have plenty of video footage to hold onto forever and to turn over to ANYONE who wants it. Welcome to the Columbia Union of Socialist Republics!

BTW, isn't it the very same Mr. Krespohl who is blasting Mr. Skala for $10,000 in travel expenses who is also a proponent of these boondoggle intrusions into our privacy?

(Report Comment)
John Schultz March 25, 2010 | 5:57 p.m.

"In my current position, we make arrests on at least a weekly basis off evidence we gather from security cameras."

Hmm, and are those governmment-owned cameras or ones put up by private businesses? I'm in favor of property owners protecting their own property, but I'm not in favor of using taxpayer dollars to subsidize downtown owners.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro March 25, 2010 | 8:23 p.m.

(" of the things the community can do now is support Proposition 1, which will be one more spoke in the wheel to help prevent and solve crime.")

-How does Chief Burton feel about not being allowed to move these cameras to any real "hot spots" should they be needed outside the District's perimeter, elsewhere in the city?
I will vote NO on Proposition 1 and wait for a better Proposition/Ordinance to be drafted during our next mayor's reign.
If water seeks its own level, than I would think "The District" would use a CIT approach to fund their own perceived improvements in their neighborhood.
Also, whatever happened to discussions about a properly administered teenage curfew program?
Yea. I'll wait and see how long it takes to see that water level off.
Proposition 1 needs a rewrite.
It reminds me of that vote taken on "Renovating the Library."
After that vote passed, the "renovated" library was a heap of rubble.
Columbia's being misled and manipulated by some very shrewed and wealthy players.
Stop "gaming" the public.

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush March 29, 2010 | 10:07 a.m.

Maj. Schwandt,
After reading your letter twice, you offer the most compelling reason that I've heard for voting no on Prop 1: criminals will simply seek out other areas for their crime.

I'd rather the money be spent on more police. Police can actually intervene during a crime.

I'm glad you can use the cameras at MU to catch criminals. Maybe you could have your MU cops trained on bicycle laws, too?

(Report Comment)

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