New Orleans has experienced two murders in three days near inoperable crime cameras, says the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Mayor Ray Nagin’s spokeswoman, Ceeon Quiett, confirmed that both cameras don’t work — along with scores of others in the city. She blamed the camera damage on Hurricane Gustav and said the city has started repairing them and will repair all of them soon. Complaints about inoperable — or ineffective and expensive — crime cameras have dogged the city since it launched the controversial crime-fighting effort.
Hurricane Gustav damaged 100 of the 240 cameras installed citywide. The city’s goal, said Councilwoman Stacy Head, is to repair enough cameras to bring the total back up to 200. The debate over the usefulness of the crime cameras has raged since well before this year’s hurricane. Some question whether they work at all to stop crime even when they’re not broken. New Orleans Police Department Superintendent Warren Riley said yesterday that, “The videos that we have had helped us tremendously.” Five years ago, Mayor Ray Nagin promised more than 1,000 cameras across the city. The city contracts for cameras have been cloaked in secrecy, causing a rift between the administration and some City Council members.