Council Denies Downtown Cameras

City council voted against Chief Timothy Longo’s request for $300k for downtown security cameras, but is willing to support a scaled-back version, Seth Rosen writes in today’s Daily Progress. Mayor David Brown and councilors Kevin Lynch and Dave Norris all voted against Longo’s proposal to blanket downtown with security cameras. To their great credit, both Brown and Norris specifically cited the utter lack of evidence that security cameras lead to a reduction in crime. All members of council but Brown said they’re willing to explore a scaled back version, with mobile security cameras that store the video (rather than transmit it to the police station), to be extracted only in the case of an incident report. They’ve asked for a modified proposal from Chief Longo, but they’re making no promises that they’ll support it.

28 Responses to “Council Denies Downtown Cameras”


  • My favorite bit in the coverage of this comes from Matt Holmes’ piece for WCAV:

    “It only takes a few seconds for a child to disappear,” said Sage Moon Gallery owner Morgan Perkins. “That’s one of the things that I think we need to think about is providing safety for these kids. What if we had the cameras?”

    Think of the children! My God, won’t somebody think of the children?!

    I’ve never, ever heard of a kidnapping downtown. Certainly not a spate of them. Once you’ve pulled out the old “think of the children” canard in a debate, I think you’ve basically hit rock bottom.

  • Amen Waldo. I see the fear factor reigns in our little city.

  • Daily Progress reporter Seth Rosen is factually inaccurate in the statement that,

    “Mayor David Brown and councilors Kevin Lynch and Dave Norris all voted against Longo’s proposal to blanket downtown with security cameras.”

    There was only ONE vote and that vote was not in disapproval of Chief Longo’s camera proposal, but was instead approval to proceed in an RFP for cameras utilizing a modified camera implementation strategy.

    As a parent and frequent visitor of the Downtown Mall, I support the use of cameras and believe cameras do deter crime will assist in changing the community’s perception that the Mall is unsafe. This is a real and living perception.

    Pretty typical in my opinion of Council’s willingness to increase questionable social programs and big government spending without giving the same priority to public safety until something detrimental or catastrophic occurs that brings out the masses. Much more prudent to utilize available technology in advance in an effort to deter crime than to implement such technology after the fact to prevent additional such offenses.

    Sorry, Council’s decision just doesn’t make a lot of sense to me…..but at least they didn’t waste money on another paid consultant….so I will at least give them one kudos.

  • I wonder if the people who are opposed to cameras on the Mall are also opposed to cameras at the ATM machines.

  • “Everybody’s got something to hide except for me and monkey.” Wow, I can’t believe I quoted a white album lyric. What is the world coming too. So what on earth were they talking about with the mobile camera idea? And yes, how pathetic with the “think of the children” meme. A new low perhaps in this debate. Please people, read the relevant research, cameras don’t deter or help catch crooks. And I’m not going to think of the children. They can just sod off.

  • CVille Eye, you’re confusing public and private sector.

  • Well hopefully this will allow us now to focus on what’s truly important: Ed Robb’s proposal to improve security at the jail to prevent terrorists from breaking in.

  • Well whadaya know…common sense prevails in C’ville politics. I consider using cameras to prevent/solve crimes analogous to the efficacy provided by those stupid radar equipped speed limit signs on wheels and tell you how fast you’re going.

  • Let me ask the question in a different way. Do people who use ATMs feel safer knowing there is a camera there to film any would be robber?

  • Most criminals aren’t smart enough to know that ATMs even have cameras. It’s kinda like the rocket scientists that murdered a girl recently, stole her car…… and parked the damn car 2 blocks from where they live. These dumb criminals advertised that they lived closeby.

    ———————————-

    Even some smart people forget ATMs have cameras. I had a wild and crazy ATM event one evening. I had picked my girlfriend up from work at 9 p.m. one hot and humid summer night. Then we were going grab some cash at an ATM for dinner after going swimming at a local motel for a while. She was dressed in business attire. She decided to change into her bikini right in the car on the way. Well, she had to change in the car, or go out of the way to go home and change. Easy choice obviously. I still wonder to this day how much of this the ATM camera caught on film. Because I recall thinking to myself at the time that it was too well lit around the bank and ATM machine and she didn’t have any clothing on at all for a few seconds. While this is a weird tale to see on a blog, it certainly brings up an interesting point. Even though she was an intelligent person, my girlfriend was mistakenly expecting some sort of privacy within our own car for some strange reason. Maybe this is why people object to surveillance cameras? I know she was terribly embarrassed when I reminded her she was on camera. The ATM camera never caught anybody robbing us, but it might have caught her totally naked.

  • With so many unsolved crimes around, I wouldn’t underestimate the intelligence of criminals.

  • Maybe you’re OVERESTIMATING the intelligence of the police.

  • Cville Browneye, I’m willing to bet the police chief can match his law degree with yours. How about it?

  • CVille Eye, having a degree doesn’t amount to diddly squat. I have found that those with law degrees that can’t make it anywhere else usually end up where they do. Why would the local Chief Magistrate be working for peanuts with her law degree? A good attorney should be able to make $150,000 to $250,000 a year in the private sector easily. Look at Debbie Wyatt and one of her latest $4 million dollar verdicts (wrongful death by cop), she made at least a third… $1.3 million. And maybe there’s so many unsolved crimes because they simply aren’t being investigated? I saw three detectives pull in at a major retailer the other day and go shopping. I’m almost sure it was on your dime. Even if they were off duty they were still using the city car and gas on your dime.

  • People who study law do so for different reasons aside from being a trial lawyer and making a lot of money in civil cases. There are lawyers here who rarely see inside a courtroom and don’t want to.
    Demopublican, you appear to have an obsession with the local police department. Do you have any other interests? I’m beginning to suspect a personal vendetta of some kind, maybe unrequited love? I’ll wait here for your answer.

  • Waldo,

    It’s not always a kidnapping when children disappear. Sometimes they wander away and get lost. I’m just confused by your comments. What are you saying? JC

  • CVille Eye, I appear to have an obsession with the local police department? You’re waiting here for my answer? OK. ——-> Are you losing it? I haven’t mentioned the police department or Chief Longo in this subject. YOU DID! Even when discussing law degrees in response to your comments about said degrees, I sidestepped Longo and his law degree. In all fairness though, I did mention “three detectives”. I never said if it was city police detectives or county police detectives. And I only mentioned them because you questioned why so many crimes are going unsolved.

  • It’s not always a kidnapping when children disappear. Sometimes they wander away and get lost.

    For a child to wander away and get lost downtown, and for that to elevate to the level at which the police would be consulting video surveillance data…well, that would be absolutely extraordinary. Again, if there has been a rash of children wandering off downtown and meeting some ghastly fate, I’m simply not aware of it.

    I have no patience for the notion that we must give up some privacies because unspecified terrible things might happen.

    I’m just confused by your comments. What are you saying?

    If you’re confused by my comments, I really can’t help you. I don’t know how to be any more clear or forthright.

  • But Waldo, if you DID have a child and as of result of surveillance, they were returned safely, you would be forever grateful. JC

  • But Waldo, if you DID have a child and as of result of surveillance, they were returned safely, you would be forever grateful.

    If I implanted a GPS within my abdomen, rigged to silently broadcast my position every ten minutes, and I were abducted but returned safely as a result, I would be forever grateful.

    If I trained a pack of macaques to douse flames and as a result, they prevented my home from burning down, I would be forever grateful.

    If a 1,000 foot deep sinkhole opened beneath my feet and as a result of wearing a BASE parachute at all times, I survived, I would be forever grateful.

    How’s your macaque training coming along?

  • And that, folks, is why I read the comments.

  • I guess I am an optimist. Have a great day and let me know how the GPS implantation goes. JC

  • Demopublican posts regularly on the Hook’s website and obviously has a bone to pick with the CITY police, especially Longo. I guess when you are forced to resign from a job that you pretty-much sucked at anyway – you get left with a bad taste in your mouth and want to bash the whole place.

  • Bobby, I have never resigned from any job in my life. And per your implications, I never worked for Longo or at any police department. I simply have a problem with the direction law enforcement nationwide is headed and has been headed for the last 15 to 20 years. It’s an “us vs them” mentality out there. There is no more Protect & Serve. And locally it doesn’t appear as if Longo is trying to do anything about this phenomenon. The two recent events at crosswalks should be an eye opener for all of you. 1) Cop almost runs over 2 people, arrests the 2 people, 2) Cop runs over man in wheelchair, man in wheelchair charged.
    Never fear though, I am a firm believer that what goes around comes around. Want an example? A cop named Gluba intentionally shoots his neighbor’s dog. He beats the charge because he wasn’t read his rights. Of all people, a cop should know the Miranda warning for God’s sake! it shouldn’t have to be read to him! You recall all of this? Wasn’t much later Gluba’s dog was shot and killed by a suspect. What goes around comes around. I didn’t have a bit of sympathy for Gluba, but I did for the K-9.

  • If you go here http://charlottesville.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=149 you can hear the discussion Council had with the police department at its meeting on December 3, 2007. Pull the scrubber by the green bar near the bottom to about 1 hour 49 minutes into the meeting to get to that point. They explain the revisions in the way the cameras will be used.

  • Demopublican, those are two perfect examples in our fair city alone in the last couple months. Think about how many people have gotten this treatment in those 15-20 years you’re talking about, or really more like the last six, since, the ahem…”terrorists” attacked their, sorry, “our” people. The provisions in the Patriot Act have trickled down to even our lovely little Charlottesville on a local level, except that locales don’t have to bother upholding the illusion of “checks and balances” as much as those do at the top, so a little tug of war comences, someone pulls out the Patriot Act and the struggle ends pretty quickly in favor of b.b. Anyway, in addition to the most recent examples of how things are going, don’t forget about the poor lady on Hydraulic who was killed by a speeding cop and the comment from the police department was something along the lines of “the officer has been through a lot and is taking some time off.” Gee, thanks for the sympathy for the family.

  • Johnny Law, when you addressed me by name above, I was hoping for a great debate. But I simply can’t disagree with anything you said. I have a friend up north that not long ago was detained, quesioned and held as possibly having ties to terrorists by the local police. Why you may ask? Because he is an amatuer photographer just getting interested in cameras and lenses and whatever else the hobby involves. He made the mistake of taking pictures around old historical city governement buildings where several police cars and EMS units were sitting around. They released him only after an extensive background check was performed. And ironically enough, he was first spotted taking pictures by security cameras. He was then surrounded and taken down to the ground at gunpoint. This nation is scared to death of it’s own shadow now. Exactly what Bin Laden wanted.

  • Which would you prefer? The money could be spent putting more officers in this apparently dangerous place. Officers who may actually be in a position to protect you and maybe even your property. Or would you prefer cameras that make your victimization and “injury or serious death” into the next youtube fad-of-the-day?

    If you think cameras prevent crime, just look at Chicago. Go downtown where they have all the police cameras, and watch as the hard drug dealers work the very same streets “covered” by cameras while cleverly avoiding the cameras by moving behind cover for the actual illegal exchanges.

    Either criminals ignore the cameras which doesn’t reduce crime, or they get smart and avoid the camera’s view intentionally (making certain specific spots MUCH more prone to crime than others). Europe has had similar problems, with the cameras just pushing crime to other areas.

    If the police department is saying they cant maintain a perimeter of a few blocks around their OWN STATION, well maybe we need to fire them all and get some real police, or maybe the marines.

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