New York Failed Bomb Exposes Weakness in Surveillance Cameras Crime Fighting

After the failed car bombing in Times Square last month, grainy video images were broadcast across the country of the vehicle and a man next to it changing his shirt. The video was likely poured over for days in an attempt to find some clue at who was responsible for the offense. Ultimately, however, it did nothing to help.

In NYC and around the country, many cities have gone high tech, mounting cameras on street posts and corners as another crime fighting tool. But, are they worth the cost and do they really serve any purpose.

Even if the balding man changing his shirt that day in Times Square had been the suspect, it isn’t likely the tape would have assisted efforts to locate him at all. Particularly in an area as populous, a grainy image taken from overhead doesn’t provide much direction.

According to this Washington Post article, Times Square has 82 city owned cameras and many other private ones. Not only did none of those cameras prevent a bomb attempt but none led the officials to the perpetrator.

While some say that crime is reduced when a camera goes up, the logical explanation for this reduction is that the activity simply moves one block down, where a camera won’t see them. The actual use of such street-side camera footage in criminal cases is quite small precisely because it is very rare for a person to commit a crime within shot of the cameras—they know better.

Prosecutors can get a conviction on much less than a video of the crime, however. If you are facing criminal charges, there are a slew of things that will likely be produced as evidence against you. Whether it’s drugs, stolen items, or a DUI that has you in trouble with the law, contact a criminal defense attorney for help.

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