By: Maggie Clark, Stateline on April 22, 2013
…Since 9/11, law enforcement agencies have used federal grants to buy surveillance cameras for areas across the country plagued by crime or potentially targeted for terrorism. A surely outdated count from 2007 said downtown Boston was watched by a network of at least 147 police surveillance cameras. On the marathon route, it’s likely that most businesses have surveillance cameras, along with every ATM and red-light traffic device with a license plate reader. Not to mention every spectator with a camera phone.
Combing through video evidence is the new standard in dealing with crime in public, says Grant Fredericks, a forensic video analyst who teaches forensic video technique at the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va.
“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.”
… Boston’s camera saturation is the norm in major cities. Grants from the Justice Department, Department of Homeland Security and other smaller grants to the Port of Boston allowed the city to amass hundreds of cameras since 9/11, both to monitor for national security and to deter street crime.
While there’s not one number of all the surveillance cameras in the United States, a project of the ACLU documented press reports from every state except Wyoming and South Dakota detailing police surveillance cameras in the states. Individual cities also have large camera networks made possible by federal grants, according to the Boston Globe.
In 2007, St. Paul, Minn., got a $1.2 million grant for 60 cameras for its downtown; Madison, Wis., bought a 32-camera network with a $388,000 grant; and Pittsburgh added 83 cameras to its downtown with a $2.58 million grant.
In the 1990s, Chicago was one of the first major cities to use police cameras to monitor high-crime areas plagued by gang violence and street-level drug crime. The cameras have also been part of policing in all major cities. In a study of police cameras in Baltimore, researchers found that after four months of setting up the cameras downtown, crime in that area was down by about 25 percent, according to a study from the Urban Institute…
In other mass attacks, the video system was the key investigative tool that police used to identify suspects. It was video analysis that led police to the perpetrators of the 2005 London subway bombings in the city’s Tube system. Researchers in 2006 estimated that the United Kingdom was saturated with about 4.2 million surveillance cameras or one camera for every 14 people, according to a study from the British Home Office.
Source: To read the article in full, see: http://www.emergencymgmt.com/safety/Security-Cameras-Boston-Bomber.html