The relationship between law enforcement and video technology is poised to grow, especially in Lower Manhattan, where the New York Police Department is planning to add 1,000 more police cameras and 2,000 private cameras that will be linked in a network inspired by London's surveillance “ring of steel,” says the New York Times. The first cameras are scheduled to start feeding into a coordination center at the end of this month , said police spokesman Paul Browne. By the end of next year, 2,000 cameras should be online, with a total of 3,000 by 2011. The aim is to link them to “smart” software that identifies a potentially suspicious situation, such as an abandoned package or a car that circles repeatedly.
Police cameras are out in force in other places. The department has 500 of them on the street, monitors more than 3,100 cameras in about 235 public housing buildings, and has access to more than 1,700 New York City Housing Authority closed-circuit systems. Their contribution to crime reduction is difficult to establish because other factors might be at work, including changes in police strategies. “There really has not been definitive research, but we do know intuitively they have had an impact,” said Chuck Wexler of the Police Executive Research Forum. A forum survey of 176 police departments showed that 47 percent of them believed cameras were more effective than patrols in combating killings. Fifty-six percent said cameras were more useful than patrols in preventing robberies.