Monday, December 2, 2013

Lock It, Hide It, Keep It

Normally, I stay away from comments about policing in Los Angeles. Today, however, I'm going to use a recent marketing campaign in Los Angeles to make a point about point about CCTV in particular and policing in general.

According to the LA Daily News, there have been 23,265 thefts from motor vehicles in Los Angeles thus far this year. This time last year, there were 23,531. This time in 2011, there were 22,614. These numbers represent those crimes actually reported.

With the blanketing of Los Angeles with CCTV cameras, and with the Mayor's goal of 10,000 sworn officers being met in 2009, you'd think that property crimes would be reduced significantly. But they haven't.

If you can imagine the range of crimes being investigated, and the relatively low priority of property crimes, then you can understand why there are only about 6 or 7 staff assigned per geographical area to investigate property crimes. The total might be around 100 investigators. These 100 are responsible for over 23k crimes. That's a huge caseload.

Enter CCTV. It's everywhere. If it's a deterrent, then crime should be down significantly. But, again, it's not. The tech is old, under maintained, and generally not fit for purpose. In many cases, companies have just replaced their old VCRs with a DVR. No upgrades to cameras or lenses. Many are trying to cover entire parking lots from roof-top cameras with small lenses.

With a few police agencies actually publishing lists of crimes that won't generate a police response, and most having informal/internal policies about response priorities, this new marketing campaign's admission is probably the best advice.

Crime is out of control. In Los Angeles, there have been over 90k Part 1 Crimes year to date. If you live in a small town, like me, that number is staggering and almost incomprehensible. There are so many crimes in most major cities that can only map a few months of data before running out of room on its map.

In the end, the police marketing seems accurate. The steps you take are your best defense against crime.

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