by Tara Servatius
Meck Deck blogger
Huntersville is going big brother. It wants to install a network of surveillance cameras to put at crime hot spots in the town.
Interstate 77 runs right through the middle of Huntersville, and in past years many thieves have hopped right on the highway after robbing banks, convenience stores, and other businesses.
Lt. Barry Graham, with Huntersville police, told Eyewitness News the cameras can zoom in very far and could be a huge help in catching criminals.
“They would be able to give us a definite car description, maybe a license tag, number of suspects in the vehicle, things like that,” he said. Police would put the cameras at six intersections, three along Gilead Road and three along Sam Furr Road, or NC-73. Both roads intersect with I-77.
We can look to Europe, where use of these camera systems is far more widespread, to see how this turns out. First police say that they are doing this to catch criminals and drug runners, just like the police say in Huntersville. Then the cameras are quickly turned on everyday drivers.
Here’s but one example from Scotland:
SPY CAMERA technology used to snare criminals is tracking unwitting motorists on Scotland’s major trunk roads. The Automatic Number Plate Recognition system (ANPR) is being rolled out by the government’s Transport Scotland agency.
The system is used by police forces across the UK to bust drug-running vehicles, uninsured drivers and other criminals.
It is now being used routinely on Scotland’s busiest road, the M8 between Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Anpr cameras are also tracking number plates on vehicles on the M77 route from south Glasgow to Kilmarnock and the A726 Glasgow southern orbital … Anpr offers police instant details on vehicles and motorists including who the car is registered to and insurance and MOT details.
The reach of eight to 10 of these cameras is unbeliveable, as we can see from this example in Bunnell, Fla.
Commissioners are looking at surveillance cameras as a crime deterrent in drug-ridden zones, and as a way to expand the reach of the city police department, which is short-staffed: police officers would be able to conduct surveillance and zoom in and out on license plates, people’s faces or activity in streets or possibly through windows from their laptops, their desks or, conceivably—if they have the proper sign-ons—any computer. The cameras would be equipped with 220x zoom capability.
“We have the whole south side, the whole infested area, under surveillance with these eight cameras,” Bunnell Police Chief Arthur Jones said.
You could argue that the cameras are just doing what police already do — watch us and document law violations. They are just doing it in a far cheaper and more efficient manner. But as small town America catches on to the money they can save cash-strapped small police departments and installs these things, there won’t be anywhere to go to escape them. (Uptown, the interstates, and Charlotte’s major intersections are already decked out with these cameras.)
Is this a good or a bad thing?
The Associated Press reported this weekend that the American people are quite enthused about it. Some 71 percent favor the use of surveillance cameras in public places.
With that level of enthusiasm, only technology will limit what governments do with them.