Ramblings & ephemera

San Francisco surveillance cameras prove useless

From Heather Knight’s “S.F. public housing cameras no help in homicide arrests” (San Francisco Chronicle: 14 August 2007):

The 178 video cameras that keep watch on San Francisco public housing developments have never helped police officers arrest a homicide suspect even though about a quarter of the city’s homicides occur on or near public housing property, city officials say.

Nobody monitors the cameras, and the videos are seen only if police specifically request it from San Francisco Housing Authority officials. The cameras have occasionally managed to miss crimes happening in front of them because they were trained in another direction, and footage is particularly grainy at night when most crime occurs, according to police and city officials.

Similar concerns have been raised about the 70 city-owned cameras located at high-crime locations around San Francisco.

So far this year, 66 homicides have occurred in San Francisco, compared with 85 in all of 2006. On average, about a quarter of the city’s homicides happen on or near public housing property every year, according to statistics from the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice.

The authority has spent $203,603 to purchase and maintain its cameras since installing the first batch in the summer of 2005. It has plans to install another 81 cameras, but no date has been set.

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