Crime-surveillance cameras in Baltimore “have not yet proven to be helpful to prosecutors,” the Baltimore Sun quotes a spokeswoman for chief prosecutor Patricia Jessamy as saying. The cameras have become a political issue; Jessamy is running in a Sept. 12 primary election. Closed-circuit television cameras began going up in May 2005; about 300 of them are spread throughout the city. Mayor Martin O’Malley allocated $3 million in this year’s budget for more cameras. Police use the cameras to gather information about drug activities and gangs. And they use them as evidence in some criminal cases.
In July, police made 271 arrests based on incidents captured by cameras. The same month, prosecutors won convictions in 34 cases and dropped 37 with camera evidence. Jessamy’s spokesoman said the quality of the images is so poor that prosecutors cannot clearly identify a suspect, and therefore, they cannot present the evidence to jurors. Steve Fogleman, Jessamy’s opponent in the primary, criticized her for requesting samples of surveillance tapes for a news interview.