Re: The times they are a-changing, July 12 letters.
White Rock Coun. Larry Robinson just doesn’t get it.
Why does he think cameras can replace a beat cop? For security cameras to be effective, someone has to watch them and someone has to respond to the incident.
I am a senior manager for a security company that does CCTV. I would certainly welcome the business opportunity presented by a CCTV system for White Rock. However, if my advice was sought as a security professional, I would certainly advise against it.
CCTV – or what is now called remotely monitored surveillance – is intended to do exactly that, to observe. When an activity is detected, it solicits a response. If it is a criminal activity, then the police are called now, not later. This is where the value of CCTV lies, not after the fact – because the damage is done.
Just ask the guy whose trailer got stolen (Thieves make off with trailer, June 19). Caught the thieves on camera, but the trailer is gone. So using a surveillance system in passive mode is not a good idea.
As for deterring criminal activity, yes, but within controlled environments only – like the SkyTrain station. Public spaces makes it problematic. Every time the motion detector on the camera is tripped, someone has to investigate. And last I heard, there are no curfews on the promenade, making multiple false alarms a reality.
By the way, criminals are not always stupid. Some will wear masks and give the cameras a royal salute, others will find blind spots. The only way to cover these blind spots is to use more cameras, meaning more money.
And what happens when power or the Internet goes down? Simple solution to the latter, install your own wireless system like Surrey. Translation – more money.
If council wants to use two or three cameras for a live view of the pier and Marine Drive, great. However, as a tool in fighting crime and creating a safe community, it’s going to cost a lot of money with little value for the price.
And, please, no more comparisons with the U.K. That is a diametrically different situation. Those cameras were installed not to fight your average criminal; they were installed to fight a real and still-present terrorist threat.
Darwin Nickel, White Rock
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It may have taken a little longer than predicted, but Orwell’s vision of a society where cameras and computers spy on every person’s movements is now on the verge of being a reality in our little town, half-way around the world from the most-monitored nation on our planet.
Coun. Larry Robinson goes to great length in his letter to cite public-safety concerns yet fails to offer compelling statistics on the validity of CCTV in crime reduction. I did, however, note his implication that White Rock’s crime problems are caused by persons originating “north of the yellow line on North Bluff Road.”
Further, Couns. Robinson and Al Campbell are specifically vague as to who will be paying to monitor these cameras 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to control the subversive elements that they seem to fear.
The looming question is this: are we to become little England, with a camera on every corner, watching our comings and goings? I reference the U.K., where the Big Brother nightmare of George Orwell’s 1984 has become a reality, with in excess of 4.2 million cameras watching public movement. Is this where we want White Rock and Canada as a whole to go? Do we really fear public spaces so much that we are willing to be scrutinized by cameras being used under the guise of public safety?
The tone of the councillors’ remarks is: why worry if you have nothing to hide? However, an individual’s privacy should not be taken away simply because of the notion that it is in the public’s ‘best interests’ to comply with the government’s insatiable thirst for surveillance.
We know it’s been 63 years since 1984 was written, and yes, the world has changed. But that is no excuse for the erosion of civil liberties, masquerading as public safety.
Allow me to put this simply, Mr. Robinson and Mr. Campbell. Please show the citizens of White Rock, minus your fear mongering, where the real benefit lies in the citizens allowing you to install CCTV in our city.
Without such understanding, your supposedly well-intended policies may be ineffective. Indeed, citizens should have the right to feel like their daily life is not recorded and watched by government employees behind cameras. It may help prevent crime and catch the minority of crooks, but it is at the expense of the government losing the trust of the vast majority.
Steven Hughes, White Rock
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What a silly argument, Coun. Robinson.
First of all, parents have been encouraging their kids to put coins, walk on the rails and take pictures as long as there have been trains. Is it a smart or safe thing to do? Of course not, it’s dangerous and stupid. However, to suggest that installing CCTV would somehow eliminate this stupid behaviour is just plain silly.
Apparently, Peace Arch News has failed to report the massive increase in murders, thefts, gang violence etc. occurring on the promenade. That would be the only reason we should consider CCTV.
Oh wait, that’s because there hasn’t been any increase in crime on the promenade.
PAN did, however, report on a protest of the coal trains travelling on the rails (13 fined in train protest, May 8). Could it be that this is why BNSF is suggesting White Rock needs to increase its security?
The real question is not whether we need cameras, it’s why do Canadians allow American coal to travel on our soil, in American trains, where it is exported in foreign ships to Asia where it is used to destroy our environment, with virtually no benefit to Canadians?
Don Johnston, White Rock