Should The City of West Palm Beach Consider the Use of Surveillance Cameras?
The ability to offer ample security to all citizens is a primary objective that police officers must guarantee. In an effort to ensure there is ample security in West Palm Beach, the area’s police department has decided to engage in a rigorous task of repairing and installing closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras in the region. The increase in the number of crimes and shootings is the main cause for the installation and repair of CCTV cameras. Recent crimes committed in this area have occurred in areas that have CCTV camera, yet these gadgets have not been able to capture clear pictures, which could identify the perpetrators. Most of these cameras were either defective, had poor focus, or were covered with dust, which made them not to capture clear images (Doris, 2016). The lack of properly functioning CCTV cameras is attributed to the existence of crime in areas that are covered with cameras. Therefore, it is arguable that installation of properly functioning CCTV’s will result in a decrease in crime as well as enable easy capturing and prosecution of criminals. However, there are still concerns that these cameras could intrude on people privacy, result in a transfer of crime to other areas, or even fail to capture criminals within a reasonable time.
Principal Interest on Use of CCTV
The proponents for the use of CCTVs argue that they are effective in deterring crime as well as in capturing law offenders. Criminals may be less likely to commit offenses in areas that have CCTV due to the high chances of being caught. In addition, the presence of cameras makes more people to visit a specific area due to perceived safety. This increase in human traffic pushes most criminals from areas with CCTV. CCTV cameras also inform police officers of areas that have criminal activities. This makes areas that are potential avenues for crime to have high security, which results in the low crime rate. CCTV cameras also alert individuals of potential crime. In turn, this information makes individuals take more precautionary actions, which in turn minimizes the chances of them being victims of crime.
According to the government, CCTV’s are effective in protecting the public and ensuring that they feel safe. They also improve security in the protection of public and community assets and infrastructures. They improve the security response time and assist in the process of control and business monitoring (Gill & Spriggs, 2005). Similarly, the UK and USA government attribute CCTV’s in the prevention of terrorism as well as in law enforcement and in the improvement of public safety (Government Accounting Office [GAO], 2003).
According to Ratcliffe, Taniguchi, & Taylor, (2009), the prevention of crime using CCTV is not always effective due to various factors that limit their performance. The proponents of CCTV cameras normally base their arguments on the assumption that the law offenders are usually aware of the presence of cameras. In reality, this is not always the case. For instance, a research showed that 32 months after the installation of CCTV cameras in Glasgow, Scotland, only 41% of the population was aware of their existence (Waples, Gill, & Fisher, 2009). Although CCTV’s have the ability to inform police officers’ of an ongoing crime, law offenders may over time learn the police officers response time, which may make them alter the speed with which they commit crime (Ratcliffe, Taniguchi, & Taylor, 2009). Another pertinent concern on the effectiveness of CCTV’s is on crime displacement. Crime displacement occurs when law offenders decide to shift their areas of crime from places that have CCTV cameras to those that do not have. In a research done by Waples, Gill, & Fisher (2009), it was found that overly the use of CCTV results in a reduction of crime against people and property. The displacement of crime to other areas was found to be infrequent and spatial. Spatial displacement was found to occur in target areas, which also needed to have surveillance cameras.
CCTV Issue on Range of Positions
The range position is an important element in the use of CCTV cameras. The range position determines the ability of the cameras to zoom images, the clarity with which they capture images, and the extent within which they intrude on people’s privacy. These issues are pertinent in the establishment of security. On the contrary, they also have a limitation of crossing and interfering with ethics and morals when they intrude into people’s privacy.
Despite the effectiveness of CCTV’s, they cannot work on their own. Waples, Gill, & Fisher, (2009) espouse that CCTV cameras require human assistance and monitoring for them to be effective. The effectiveness of CCTV in preventing nuisance, other than criminal activities is questionable. Waples, Gill, & Fisher (2009) illustrate a scenario where a congregation of youth may be laughing and making weird noises in a park. While their conduct may be legal, on the contrary, they may be scaring other fun goers. In this example, a signage may be a better measure to prevent this form of a nuisance than CCTV cameras. Other arguments such as using outreach workers to train potential offenders on ways of engaging in other income-generating activities other than crime are mostly viewed as a better alternative. Waples, Gill, & Fisher, (2009) further question on the response time in crime. Despite the ability of CCTV cameras to capture and report cases of crime, it is much easier for a person under threat to report to a monitoring guard than to expect the camera to identify the threat and report to the guard. In fact, Ratcliffe, Taniguchi, & Taylor, (2009) supports this argument when he questions on the security officers response time. He also alludes that security officers are unable to consistently watch CCTV cameras without losing concentration (Ratcliffe, Taniguchi, & Taylor, 2009).
Various alternative security measures can be effectively implemented in public and private areas. For instance, many schools in the US have implemented measures such as controlling the access to school premises. This control measure entails installing a common entry point, which is closely monitored by guards. In addition to this, there is the use of badges by student and teachers in order to identify all the members of the school. In some schools, they have even added sniffer dogs and metal detectors as part of their security measure (National Center for Educational Statistics [NCES], 2016). The government and private enterprises can duplicate these measures in their institutions.
The use of the Automatic Identification System and Open Safe Commerce is a novel method that the US government uses in identifying high valuable cargo, which may be at risk of theft when they are being shipped. Through this system, the government electronically monitors high-value cargo that is being transported in or out of the US (Peterson & Treat, 2008). This method is a preventative approach that places maximum security to goods and commodities that have the highest likelihood of been stolen.
Despite the heavy investments in security measures, such as CCTV, increased security personnel’s, and increased patrol officers, most of these measures may be easily bypassed by overflight criminal activities. In an effort to curtail this form of crime, the government is implementing measures to control and regulate the use of drones. Various incidences such as the Hamas use of drones to bomb Israel in July 2014 have shown that criminals may bypass existing barriers to crime by using these gadgets. In an almost similar incidence, in September 2011, the FBI stopped Rezwan Ferdause from shipping explosives to the US using drones (Maddox & Stuckenberg, 2008). In light of this, the current measures by the government to control the access and use of drones are effective.
Organization Actors and Dynamics
The types of security measure implemented in various organization largely depend on the institution’s culture. In some places, too much security may appear to intrude on individuals’ privacy. For instance, the use of CCTV cameras may be appropriate in monitoring external and internal risks in public areas. However, this measure may be inappropriate in private premises.
A cost-benefit analysis of the most appropriate security measure is the other issue of concern. Some security measures such as a guard may offer appropriate and sufficient security in certain premises. On the contrary, other high-risk areas may require the combined use of CCTV cameras, guards, and surveillance (La Vigne, Lowry, Markman, & Dwyer, 2011). Therefore, depending on the organization structure, it may implement the most appropriate security measure. As for West Palm Beach, the security measure that is to be implemented should protect its public infrastructure, community assets, private property, as well as the locals. Therefore, the city should use a combination of various security mechanisms including CCTVs. The installation of these cameras in high-risk areas will lead to a decline in crime in these areas.
Approaches Used to Stop Crime
The most common way of preventing crime is by eliminating the risk factors. The most common risk factors are abandoned buildings, broken-down cars, and lack of street lighting (Stewart & Mueller, 2008). When these factors are corrected, the overall security in the area improves. Additionally, security officers may use the neighborhood crime prevention tactic. This method works by ensuring that the community works hand-in-hand with police officers to foster security in their neighborhood. Community policing method can be easily implemented in West Palm Beach.
Another measure to prevent crime is by reducing the opportunity for criminals to commit offenses. This method can entail the use of strong doors to ensure that criminals cannot easily break into private premises (Karn, 2008). Similarly, measures such as the use of CCTV cameras, police patrols, and surveillance have the important benefit of increasing the risk associated with crime. Criminals who engage in crime in areas where these techniques are employed can be easily caught and prosecuted (Karn, 2008). Therefore, the use of CCTV, as well as patrols and surveillance can significantly reduce the crime levels at West Palm Beach.
To sum up, due to the underlying limitations of machines, the use of CCTV is not a full remedy in itself. It is only a tool in security implementation, which police officers can use to improve the overall security of a place. In light of this, the city of West Palm Beach should install CCTV cameras alongside other security measures. They should understand that CCTV’s normally deter crimes and enable in the tracing of law offenders. Moreover, in order for them to properly function, they must be well maintained, serviced, and monitored. It is only through this measure that the city can get full value from these cameras.
Doris, T. (2016). West Palm investing in neighborhood camera replacements. Retrieved September 6, 2016, from http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com/news/news/local/west-palm-promises-new-surveillance-cameras-will-f/nsFQ8/
Government Accounting Office [GAO]. (2003). GAO-03-748 -Video Surveillance. Information on law enforcement’s use of closed-circuit television to monitor selected federal property in Washington, D.C. Washington, D.C. United States General Accounting Office.
Gill, M., & Spriggs, A. (2005). Assessing the impact of CCTV: Home office research study, No. 292. London: Home Office.
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Peterson, J., & Treat A. (2008). The Post 9/11 global framework for cargo security. Journal of International Commerce and Economics, 1 (1), 1-30.
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Stewart, M., & Mueller,, J. (2008). A risk and cost-benefit assessment of United States aviation security measures. Journal of Transport Security. 1 (1), 143-159.
Waples, S., Gill, M., & Fisher, P. (2009). Does CCTV displace crime? Criminology and Criminal Justice, 9 (2), 207-224.