NYC Police, Researchers Disagree On Whether Cameras Deter Crime


Do surveillance cameras deter criminals, asks the New York Times? A New York University study says they do not deter it much, if at all, based on five years of evidence from two locations. By looking at crime rates in two housing complexes and in Manhattan's 13th Precinct, which encircles them, two researchers said that their calculations showed no persuasive evidence that the installation of cameras reduced the crime rate in Peter Cooper Village from 2002 to 2006. There was stronger evidence for a drop in minor crime at Stuyvesant Town. The study was conducted by David Greenberg, a professor of sociology, and Jeffrey Roush, a consultant.

Among four similar previous studies, one found that giving the police access to a combination of surveillance cameras, up-to-the-second police reports, and electronic listening devices mounted around the the high-crime city of East Orange, N.J., helped reduce crime by 50 percent between 2003 and 2006 – with murders declining by nearly two-thirds, rapes by nearly a third, and robberies by half. The other three studies, which ranged from 1978 to 2002 and focused on lower-crime situations, found that the cameras' impact on reducing crime was inconclusive. Researchers question whether the trade-offs in cost and loss of privacy are worth it. The New York City Police Department maintains that cameras were responsible for a 35 percent reduction in crime in public housing soon after their installation in public spaces there.

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