Dozens of crime cameras that cost the Washington, D.C., police department $4 million last year have aided police investigations and led to a decrease in crime, Police Chief Cathy Lanier said yesterday, reports the Washington Post. Lanier told a City Council committee that last year was a safer one in the city. At the end of 2008, violent crime decreased 5 percent and gun crimes also fell. Last summer, there were fewer gun crimes than during any summer since at least 2003, she said.
Lanier credited the cameras with contributing to a decrease in the number of violent crimes within 1,000 feet of each location. The crime camera program began in August 2006. There are now more than 70 crime cameras spread throughout the city. Under D.C. law, the cameras can train their lenses only on public spaces, like sidewalks and streets. They operate 24 hours a day, and the images are reviewed by police if crimes are reported nearby. Video recordings are kept for 10 days unless there is a criminal investigation and an arrest, in which case the tapes are stored. No sound is recorded.