37. Widespread Use of Video Cameras in Public

Governments should place video cameras in as many public places as practically possible. Cameras should be positioned so that all freeways, major streets and possibly even residential streets are monitored with high enough resolution cameras to enable the camera monitoring personnel to help positively identify all significant people, activities, and events involving accidents or illegal activities. For example, these cameras would be used to help determine the party at fault in accidents, enforce speed limit laws, record illegal vehicular maneuvers, read license plates, record vehicle break-ins, record acts of vandalism and graffiti, monitor all public spaces, etc., and gain detailed information about actual or potential accidents and any crimes or other illegal behavior. Sidewalks, sporting facilities, malls, parking lots, and virtually all other public spaces should be monitored with cameras. In addition, private businesses should be encouraged to buy and place cameras around their facilities. Residents could also do the same. Everyone should be told that if their video cameras record crimes and the evidence is used to catch the criminal, the owners of that camera will be given a portion of the fine imposed on the criminal as a reward for such information and as an encouragement for others to try to capture, in detail, criminal events on camera. Mass transportation vehicles should have cameras that are able to record what virtually every passenger is doing. Cameras should be installed in public restrooms (though perhaps not viewing immediate toilet areas). Rare or fragile natural landscapes, historical sites and other areas that wish to be preserved but which may potentially be at risk of vandalism should also be video monitored. All such cameras would be used to help enforce the laws and catch law-breakers.

Ideally, all these cameras should send their live data to law enforcement centers where people are monitoring them. If something were to occur, such as an accident, theft, of act of vandalism, etc., the monitoring personnel may send the appropriate help or law enforcement personnel, potentially saving lives, aborting criminal acts and provide a wealth of information upon which to catch the criminals responsible.  In addition, all these cameras should record on a loop lasting anywhere from a month or longer.  This way, if a complaint or notification of a crime is received in the future, there would be a historical record of video to which to refer.

One person who is a significant subject of the captured footage should be entitled to receive a copy of that footage within 48 hours of the request. The police retain the right to freely distribute whatever other footage they want, so long as they do not unduly violate a person’s reasonable right to privacy.


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