Boardwalk Beaters Behind Bars (and Big Brother’s Back)

Today, the LBPD confirmed more arrests related to the boardwalk beating, and further confirmed that some of those arrested for the attack and robbery on the 17th were also involved in the beating on the 19th.

So, that total number of arrests is up to eight, good job LBPD.  Hopefully, these arrests and the strong response from the LBPD well put a stop to this outbreak of violence.

In an interesting addition, the LB Police Commissioner Sofield Senior said that “plans are in the works to create a system in which cameras will monitor the entire boardwalk 24 hours, seven days a week.”

“This video monitoring system will not replace but enhance all the measures that are currently in place to protect our citizens and visitors on the boardwalk.”

That caught me completely by surprise.  Obviously, I’ve been a huge advocate of an increased police presence on the boardwalk (I was thrilled when I saw stepped-up patrols), but I don’t think cameras are the way to go.

I’m not necessarily worried about the Big Brother privacy angle of cameras on the boardwalk, I’m more concerned with two things more tangible issues:  cost and usefulness.

First off, camera systems are really expensive, and then, someone still needs to watch the cameras for them to be at all proactive.  So, you pay for the cameras, you pay for their upkeep, and then you still pay for a body to watch the cameras’ footage.  You don’t save on manpower, and you certainly don’t save with all the operational costs of maintaining a system like this that will be buffeted by Nor’Easters and hurricanes year-round.  Further, Sofield Senior himself says that the cameras aren’t designed to replace current security measures, so how do they really help?

The second part, and more to the issue of crime itself, is that integrated security systems have proven to be borderline useless in major cities.  In Chicago for instance, a city where millions have been spent to build and integrate 10,000 cameras, over four years they only led to 4,500 arrests.  “Whoa” you may say, “that’s a lot of arrests.”  Well, in Chicago, 4,500 arrests equates to less than 1% of all arrests.  And remember, they also say “led to arrests,” not “prevented crime.”  Cameras are not crime preventers, and have a bad track record of even helping to make arrests.

Cameras may help you sleep at night, but they don’t stop crime.

My solution?  What the LBPD has already figured out.  One officer on a motorcycle cruising the boardwalk at night.  Seemingly, when this story was hot, it was no challenge to find an officer in blue that was up to the job.  They don’t even need to be there every night, all night.  Occasional patrols – or keeping an officer on a short leash near the boardwalk is also a capable crime preventer.  People knowing that the boardwalk is often patrolled will achieve the same effect as always patrolling it.

What do you think: Cameras or Cops?