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In NJ, Higher Tech Lowers Crime 219

crimeandpunishment sends along this snip from an AP story carried on Skunkpost.com: "High tech means low crime in a New Jersey city that has used an arsenal of advanced technology to sharply lower one of the highest crime rates in the nation. And now East Orange is poised to become the first city in the country to take high tech crime fighting to a whole new level ... surveillance cameras with sensors that can be programmed to identify crimes as they unfold."
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In NJ, Higher Tech Lowers Crime

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  • by WrongSizeGlass ( 838941 ) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @06:58PM (#32635434)
    What we really need in NJ are cameras that can be programmed to identify political corruption as it unfolds. Oh wait, we already have them, they're called 'regular cameras pointed at our politicians'.
  • by iammani ( 1392285 ) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @07:02PM (#32635462)
    [citation needed]
  • Re:Done! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RobertM1968 ( 951074 ) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @07:06PM (#32635480) Homepage Journal

    This is clearly a well thought-out plan. Why, what could possibly go wrong?

    In this day and age, it doesnt really matter how well thought out such a plan is when it involves information or people. There are always those who have the ability to and will abuse any system. Does that mean we should stop all innovation because of those who will abuse them? Or that instead we should weigh the potential for abuse against the potential for good in determining what to do with such ideas? Or plan in as many safety measures and punishments as possible to prevent abuse?

    I know your (possibly rhetorical) question is the expected slashdot normal obligatory response for such things, but on the other hand, there has been quite a bit of innovation and ideas that have been fought every step of the way because of such opinions, dogma and other factors. As this system leaves in the human factor for actually deciding if an action is necessary (ie: sending cops), and then leaves the cops deciding what actions to take, it doesnt seem any more open for abuse than the current surveillance system in place. Now... if the system sent automated drones out to deal with everything it thought was a crime... that would be a different story. But fortunately, we are probably still a long way away from such technology - much less the application of such technology even if it did exist.

  • Wrong reason? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mathinker ( 909784 ) * on Sunday June 20, 2010 @07:07PM (#32635488) Journal

    From TFA:

    The results have been startling: Violent crime in East Orange has fallen by more than two-thirds since 2003, according to state police statistics.


    Jose Cordero was hired as East Orange's police director in 2004 after overseeing the New York Police Department's anti-gang efforts. Crime in East Orange had dropped off after the crack epidemic of the 1980s and 90s but then rose dramatically in the early 2000s as gangs began to put down roots.

    It seems more likely to me that Cordero himself is the reason for falling crime rate rather than any high tech stuff (which just tends to move crime to other locations). I'm suspicious because, for example, in the UK where there is massive investment in surveillance cameras, my understanding is that they have found that they are mainly useful for providing evidence for prosecuting the criminals after the fact, and even that is only in something less than 25% of the cases.

  • This is dangerous. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Luke has no name ( 1423139 ) <foxNO@SPAMcyberfoxfire.com> on Sunday June 20, 2010 @07:07PM (#32635492)

    Besides the oft-quoted Ben Franklin line, I do believe giving a government too much power in watching the populace is dangerous for liberty. Should the legitimate need arise to break a law or subvert the government, corrupt individuals will have power to stop people even more easily.

    On the fliip side, the ubiquity of increased surveillance available to the PUBLIC as well as to the government (they are two different things) might prevent the government from getting away with the shit it does now.

    I have to throw in a quote: "With great power comes great responsibillity." I don't think the government has enough of the latter to justify the amount of the former it possesses.

  • by RobertM1968 ( 951074 ) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @07:10PM (#32635508) Homepage Journal

    Privacy and freedom are more important than a few lives. After all, what is the point of living if you have to do it under constant control and observation? I'd rather be dead.

    What part of the fact that cameras are already in place did you miss? And what privacy is being invaded on a public street where there is no expectation of privacy (except by idiots hiding under AC status here instead of posting under their account). And what freedom is being infringed by this system? The "freedom" of criminals to commit crimes? Remember, the system does not act on the event in person. It points it out to a human being who then decides what to do... just like as if the human being (cop) saw it in person.

  • by Tamran ( 1424955 ) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @07:18PM (#32635576)

    detection != prevention

  • by Jeremi ( 14640 ) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @07:27PM (#32635632) Homepage

    Should the legitimate need arise to break a law or subvert the government, corrupt individuals will have power to stop people even more easily.

    Indeed... I think there is an opportunity here to design systems that are resistant to government misuse.

    For example, imagine a system where the standard "camera on every street corner" has limited or no networking capability, and only records an encrypted record of what it sees/hears to local storage in a 48-hour loop. Such a camera wouldn't help police catch criminals in the act, of course, but after a crime had been committed, the police could go and physically retrieve the storage unit from the camera(s) at the scene of the crime as evidence. The police would need to get a search warrant that included the decryption key for the storage units, otherwise the data would do them no good even if they surreptitiously gathered the physical drives.

    Something like that might make improper use of the surveillance footage more difficult, and therefore less likely.

  • by couchslug ( 175151 ) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @07:41PM (#32635710)

    Solution, don't buy in the first place. No means no.

    BTW, I favor handing out free smack and other substances which don't cause behavior problems.

    The problem with heroin is that people steal to get money to buy it. They have every right to destroy themselves.

  • Re:Done! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Entropius ( 188861 ) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @07:43PM (#32635720)

    The irony is that Christians, which Miriam represented in the game, have inflicted a terrible, awful false god upon the West for the last two millennia.

    All gods are false, and the sooner we do away with them as anything other than myths the better.

  • by Entropius ( 188861 ) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @07:46PM (#32635738)

    There are levels of the assumption of privacy. On a public street I expect that anything I do might be photographed, but I don't expect that any party is keeping an extensive enough set of recordings of me to plot all my movements and my daily activities.

    Even though photography in public in general is legal and violates no rights, it's unclear whether a systematic campaign to photograph such a huge swath of someone's activities that you can extract overall patterns of behavior does. If a private person did this they might be prosecuted (rightfully so) for stalking.

  • by elucido ( 870205 ) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @07:49PM (#32635756)

    The incarceration rate is more important to me than the "crime rate." Are there more people in prison as a result of the high technology, or are less people in prison? Just because we become more efficient at catching criminals it doesn't mean society is safer, it all depends on what we consider to be a crime at the time and how we sentence it. The technology doesn't really help one way or the other unless we have sane laws.

  • Re:Done! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by icebraining ( 1313345 ) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @07:53PM (#32635780) Homepage

    We don't need to look for ways on how this could go wrong - the constant surveillance is wrong by itself.

  • by elucido ( 870205 ) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @08:00PM (#32635824)

    Lowering the violence rate, lowering specific types of crime which have victims may make us safer. Lowering the "crime rate." usually raises the incarceration rate which often lowers the income of families making them even more desperate and likely to commit crimes in the future.

    Lowering the crime rate is a way to increase the incarceration rate and win political points. It's not going to make anyone safer to for example make massive arrests of drug possession, or to arrest thousands of prostitutes, but thats usually the kind of crime they go after because it's easier. They'll probably go arrest a bunch of small time pot dealers, and crackheads, maybe some prostitutes, and say they lowered the crime rate in the city.

  • by elucido ( 870205 ) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @08:21PM (#32635924)

    This type of surveillance technology wont catch a sophisticated white collar criminal. This technology wont catch organized criminal mafias. It wont catch anyone but the dumbest criminals. This is designed to win political points by making the neighborhood look like it's safe when it really is more dangerous than ever. The police get to look like they are doing their job when they arrest hundreds of prostitutes and thousands of drug dealers. This technology is not going to stop any of the gangs, mafias, or white collar criminals. This technology will only be used to harass the dumb poor. If you are poor and dumb, you better be scared.

  • Crime Forcasting? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by adosch ( 1397357 ) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @08:27PM (#32635944)

    Can't wait until the next time I am in New Jersey and do the "did I forget my wallet in my car?" pat-down in public, I will probably be sitting in the county jail overnight on suspicion of mugging.

    I'm glad to see someone throwing out an out-of-the-box idea on how to prevent or neutralize crimes before they actually happen, but now instead of dealing with a crime after it's been committed, you get to watch it unfold while it's happening. Perhaps a bit more video evidence to look at on law enforcements side, but what does this do for Joe Americana and their privacy rights? You know this network is going to get used for more than it's initial intention. Unfortunately, bad apples spoil the whole pie sometimes and no one wins.

  • by AnotherUsername ( 966110 ) * on Sunday June 20, 2010 @08:45PM (#32636020)
    I'm sorry, but I completely disagree with your sentiment. If there was a problem with your line that caused a 911 call to be made, you cannot fault the police with following protocol. How can they know that it was a problem with your line that caused the call to take place? How are they to know that you didn't do something to your girlfriend that caused her to call 911, only for you to hang up the phone before she could do or say anything? In that case, it is perfectly logical that they would conduct a search of your apartment in order to ensure that you didn't do something further to her because she tried to call for help.
    I mean, why should the police believe you that there was nothing wrong? Because you said so? Sorry, not a good enough reason. Had something actually happened, and they simply left because you said there was some kind of mistake, and a body was later found, the public outcry would have been enormous.

    The police just can't win. We expect them to do their jobs, but when they do do their jobs, people get angry because they might be a bit inconvenienced. I just don't understand it.
  • by iYk6 ( 1425255 ) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @09:04PM (#32636084)

    I am an SVU cop posting to Slashdot from work right now. I am currently recording a man raping a woman in a dark alley. This is his fifth victim that we know of. We're not going to move in until he's gotten to 20, or until he stops.

  • by glazener ( 943321 ) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @09:04PM (#32636088)
    Seems that the appropriate response would have depended entirely on the contents of the 911 call. If there was specific, actionable information in the 911 call, then that would be one thing. If the caller said "Help me, my boyfriend is beating me and I can't get away." it seems reasonable to enter without the owner's permission. If the call was simply a hang up, or a call for a non-criminal emergency, then there should be no reason for the police to enter without permission. In many places, 911 calls are a matter of public record. Seems like it would be reasonable for the GP to find out exactly the contents of the call. If the police were unreasonable or acting outside of policy, then it would be reasonable to complain, and seek appropriate restitution.
  • Re:metrics (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Entropius ( 188861 ) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @11:07PM (#32636746)

    The most atheistic nations today have the highest suicide rates (these are those enlightened nations always mentioned here as being so wonderful..we all know which ones those are). They may have a lot of material wealth, but have little regard for anything else, mass alcoholism and drug addiction is the norm in those nations, and has been steadily rising year after year over the last several decades now.

    Citation needed -- if you're not even going to name the countries, you don't have much credibility. Also, have you estimated the size of the systematic error due to reporting differences? If you're going to wave your hands and invoke statistics you'd better have some numbers to back them up.

      The largest mass murders in the 20th century were done by the officially atheistic and socialist/communist/collectivist nations (USSR, China, Nazi era Germany, and today North Korea, by far the most oppressive regime on the planet).

    Did I say that atheists were always perfect? Besides, Hitler's regime wasn't adverse to religion; he alternatively used Christianity and Germanic neopaganism for his own ends.

    Your examples would be more meaningful if three of the four weren't Communist, which just happens to combine state atheism with state repression.

    And these Communist regimes replace loyalty to a false religious ideology with unblinking loyalty to the Party, which is just as bad in exactly the same way.

    In your list of repressive regimes, you forgot Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the various Southeast Asian military dictatorships, fyi.

        Your metrics, the ones you insist make you "superior", leave a lot to be desired when you leave out and dismiss as so trivial to not mention, the mass murder of close to 200 million people, and the mass unhappiness that comes from pure empty materialistic life.

    "Materialism" means two things. There's the philosophical idea that the material world is all that there is, and that's not "empty". (I study that material world as a particle physicist, and it's very complex and beautiful.)

    Then there's the common use to mean "obsession with material things"... and that has nothing to do with atheism; actually, most of the atheists I know are less concerned with possessions than the average religious person.

        Atheism in and by itself is not any sort of "cure" for mass assholeness.

    No, it's not. It's prevention, in the long term: in a rational world, assholes are more quickly called out and shouted down.

  • by nbauman ( 624611 ) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @11:46PM (#32636926) Homepage Journal

    Yeah, I read about the UK failure in the New Scientist and elsewhere.

    One thing missing in TFA: Data.

    How many people were actually arrested in East Orange, NJ as a result of those cameras? If the cops had a good example, they would give it to the writer.

    Another thing missing: Any meaningful scientific evaluation.

    After $1.4 million, they should have some kind of evaluation to see whether they're improving the crime rate or wasting the money.

"The pathology is to want control, not that you ever get it, because of course you never do." -- Gregory Bateson