Indianapolis has spent about $1 million in local and federal taxpayer money to put up 54 surveillance cameras in recent years, says the Indianapolis Star. Using federal anti-terrorism grants, it plans to add 40 or so by the end of the year. Is that money well-spent? Independent studies question the value of these cameras in deterring crime or catching criminals. whether they work in Indianapolis is only a guess because police officials acknowledge that, until recently, they had not tracked how many arrests were made thanks to a camera.
Police say that in some instances, the cameras may simply shift criminal activity away from wherever they are installed. Chicago reported that neighborhoods with cameras for more than six months saw a 30 percent decrease in crime and a 60 percent drop in drug incidents. A study in East Orange, N.J., also found that crime dropped by half in areas with cameras. A study of San Francisco’s camera program by the University of California found no evidence of a decline in violent or drug crimes as a result of cameras. It did find a 30 percent reduction in property crime.