The "Perception" of Crime
There was study a few years back, we don't even recall by whom and for what purpose it existed (probably there was some spare Federal money lying around). But the gist of the study was that it didn't really matter what the crime rates were measured at - what mattered was the public perception of crime in determining how safe people felt in their neighborhoods.
Politicians pick up on this all the time. Republicans run as "tough on crime" by promising to build more prisons and increase the mandatory sentencing guidelines, run with great effect during the 1980's. Democrats had Clinton promising 100,000 new police on the street, most of which seem to have ended up in Community Policing and other "feel good" preventative type programs. In spite of all this and regardless of who was running the show, the real numbers were driven by such things as how many times you interacted with the police, heard about someone seeing the police around and how many times you saw the police in your neighborhood.
Hence, the cameras.
Cameras are not the police. However, the mayor (or the mayor's people) dress the cameras up in a uniform (white with a big old blue star on it), they put a flashing blue MARS light on top (just like a squad car), and they put it in a neighborhood where crime is prevalent.
Ta-da! The perception of police service! You think we're being overly simplistic? How many cameras did they just put up at Durkin Park?
Cameras are only as good as the system that runs them though and, wonder of wonders, we just heard that the servers that are supposed to be used for the cameras were only built to handle something like 50 cameras. They're currently running between 200 and 300 cameras and are really having some very bad technical issues. Someone closer to the source can tell us the real stories we're sure. It's supposed to be pretty sad.
Labels: department issues