Thursday, November 21, 2013

Boston Marathon and CCTV - Are we learning yet?

Minutes after the Boston Marathon bombing 7 months and 6 days ago
photo Aaron Tang, Wikimedia Commons 

I enjoy watching the fictional TV cop show NCIS where Gibbs and the gang use omni-present CCTV to catch crooks doing crime. What fun! What fantasy! I hated watching the Boston Marathon bombing where CCTV caught the real act, live.

For years I've been writing about CCTV in public places in the United States and in Britain. Never shy to adopt barely-studied methods elsewhere, Canada's now in on the act. Yesterday's Leader-Post reports that "downtown Regina will be protected by 33 closed circuit (CCTV) cameras" during the upcoming Canadian Grey cup football championship game.

Let's see if I remember… 

Seven months and 6 days ago the radicalized Tsarnaev brothers carried pressure cooker bombs in backpacks in plain view of CCTV along the route of the Boston Marathon. An hour after police swept the area for explosives, they blew up their bombs killing and injuring bystanders. The whole horrible thing was caught live on CCTV. 

For a decade UK has led the world with thousands of CCTV in public places. Now a recent UK government study tells us 80% of CCTV images are ineffective and that "cameras are mostly used to trap motorists rather than catch criminals."

I'm glad cops use CCTV to catch crooks after the fact. But keeping the Grey Cup festival safe? All I see here is journalistic Alzheimer's.

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