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Opinion: Crime Cameras Need Equitable Neighborhood Rollouts

Cameras have been used for security for some time, and like it or not, they will be used more in the future. We should work to find resources to offer this visual neighborhood watch opportunity to all communities.

(TNS) — Law enforcement officials worried that police car and body cameras would hurt enforcement, policing and investigations. Some cities found traffic cameras helpful with traffic. Increasingly, apartment dwellers and homeowners are using cameras to provide some comfort as they monitor comings, goings, doorbell rings or door knocks by strangers and package deliveries. Cameras have been used for security for some time, and, like it or not, cameras will be used more in the future.

We're using technology for all kinds of things these days, including facial recognition and as a replacement for identification cards in some circumstances. Dealing with crime continues to be a major consideration, and cameras must be a part of the solutions. We have too many burglaries, robberies, stabbings, shootings, carjackings and other types of crime. Just a few days ago, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said there's an increase in carjackings which is "plaguing our state."

Some efforts deal with crime after the fact. Some efforts deter crime. Some efforts focus on monitoring. Some efforts are aimed at investigation. Cameras play multiple roles. They quite likely deter some from doing things they don't want to see on video later. They record instances of questionable or definite criminal actions. Video can be used as evidence to adjudicate cases and aid convictions.

In New Orleans, the City Council approved using cameras to catch violent offenders in the act and to see who's dumping illegally. About 70 cameras will be placed in all five council districts with New Orleans East getting 22 new cameras and each of the other districts getting 12 cameras each. The money to purchase the cameras comes from fines, bond issue borrowing and a crime camera fund created earlier. Some of the money comes from the Entergy Settlement Fund, fines the city levied against the energy company after it was determined that the utility used actors to impersonate concerned citizens at a public meeting.

In Baton Rouge, live surveillance cameras were installed in the Sherwood Forest neighborhood to catch criminals in the act. Like a number of neighborhoods throughout the state where residents can afford to pay extra for special services, Sherwood Forest's more than 3,000 homeowners pay to help deter crime. Each neighborhood exit and entrance is within view of a camera with live feeds going directly to the Baton Rouge Police Real Time Crime Center.

It's good to see efforts to deter crime and to protect citizens, but we should work to find ways, and resources, to offer this visual neighborhood watch opportunity to all communities, regardless of income and socio-economic status. Everyone wants to feel — and be — safe.

Municipalities and parishes operate somewhat independently with an umbrella of state laws and regulations, but each can consider crime cameras as part of a multi-tiered effort to help people feel safe and protected.

© 2021 The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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