Saturday, April 20, 2013


The privacy concerns of civil libertarians notwithstanding, surveillance cameras are an extremely valuable law enforcement tool

Many cities in Europe, parts of Asia and the United States have installed surveillance cameras in strategic downtown locations. London and Singapore probably have the most extensive surveillance systems of them all. New York also has an extensive system.

In Boston, the FBI and the police had to rely on surveillance cameras of private businesses at and near the Marathon finish line. Those private video cameras were instrumental in identifying Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the two brothers who planted and set off the bombs that killed three and wounded more than 170 others. The authorities were lucky those businesses had video cameras in place since the city apparently did not.

Civil libertarians continually complain that the surveillance cameras constitute an invasion of privacy. Those complaints don’t make any sense. What privacy should people expect as they are observed in the open in public places. Is it an invasion of privacy if a married couple not married to each other are unknowingly videotaped strolling arm in arm down the street, stopping occasionally to embrace and kiss each other? I don’t think so ….. not when they are petting in public.

The bombers would not have been identified so quickly if it weren’t for all those private business cameras near the Marathon finish line. Without those cameras, FBI and ATF agents studying the bomb fragments and interviewing witnesses probably would have eventually identified the perpetrators, but it would have taken much longer to do so. The Marathon bombings should be a wakeup call for the City of Boston to install its own surveillance camera system.

Public safety should trump individual privacy in public any day. The privacy concerns of civil libertarians be damned!

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