San Francisco’s 68 controversial anti-crime cameras haven’t deterred criminals from committing assaults, sex offenses or, robberies , and they’ve only moved homicides down the block, says a report from the University of California-Berkeley quoted by the San Francisco Chronicle. Researchers found that nonviolent thefts dropped by 22 percent within 100 feet of the cameras, but the devices had no effect on burglaries or car theft. They’ve had no effect on violent crime.
Mayor Gavin Newsom called the report “conclusively inconclusive,” but still wants to install more cameras around the city because they make residents feel safer. Not all city officials think it’s wise to spend money on public safety measures if the best thing that can be said about them is they have a placebo effect for worried residents. “In their current configuration they are not useful, and they give people a false sense of security, which I think is bad,” said Police Commissioner Joe Alioto-Veronese. He added that previous studies of security cameras in other parts of the U.S. have also shown that they do not deter violent crime. The American Civil Liberties Union calls the cameras a violation of privacy, and some members of the Board of Supervisors and Police Commission, as well as the city’s public defender, say they’re ineffective in fighting crime. The cameras have contributed to only one arrest in 2006 in a city that saw 98 homicides last year, a 12-year high.