Surveillance Camera Evidence The New Standard In Public Crime Probes


As is happening in the Boston Marathon investigation, combing through video evidence is the new standard in dealing with crime in public, Grant Fredericks, a forensic video analyst who teaches forensic video technique at the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va., tells Stateline. “Video holds more evidence than any other source: more than DNA, crime-scene analysis or eyewitness testimony,” Fredericks said. “There are people sitting at home with key evidence sitting on their hip. I think the concern going forward is getting to the video before people erase it, and ensuring that the best evidence is recovered.”

The buildup of the police surveillance network has not gone unchallenged. The Electronic Privacy Information Center thwarted the installation of 5,000 surveillance cameras in Washington, D.C., in 2008 after the D.C. Council refused to appropriate $866,000 for it, citing privacy concerns. Activists in Seattle have for more than a year prevented a surveillance camera system from being installed along the waterfront of Puget Sound. While there's not one number of all U.S. surveillance cameras, the ACLU documented press reports from every state except Wyoming and South Dakota detailing police surveillance cameras. Cities have large camera networks made possible by federal grants, says the Boston Globe. In an Urban Institute study of police cameras in Baltimore, researchers found that after four months of cameras downtown, crime was down 25 percent. The key isn't just having cameras; real-time monitoring and full integration of the cameras must be part of regular policing, said the institute’s Nancy La Vigne.

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