Smile! Monday, you’re on DC MPD CCTV!

If you’re out and about on Monday, be sure to be beautiful. Due to the immigration protests, the DC Metropolitan Police Department will activate its CCTV cameras Monday and be looking for you:

Beginning at approximately 1 pm on that day, the MPDC will activate its network of 19 CCTV cameras to help police monitor for any suspicious or unusual activities along the National Mall and in the downtown area.

While we can assume most of those unblinking eyeballs will be looking for abandoned backpacks, I would be careful if I were a young black man, an attractive woman, or noticed the camera watching me.

Why? Read on…

According to Dr. Clive Norris and Gary Armstrong of the Centre for Criminology and Criminal Justice at Hull University in a report entitled “The Unforgiving Eye: CCTV Surveillance in Public Space”:

camera watchers targeted young and black people, as well as males, “systematically and disproportionately . . . not because of their involvement in crime or disorder, but for no obvious reason”. Homeless people were also closely watched, and one in ten women were scrutinised for “voyeuristic” reasons by male operators. Other targets included “anyone who directly challenged, by gesture or deed, the right of the cameras to monitor them”.

Does that make you feel uneasy? Like maybe MPD shouldn’t be so free with their video feed? Well then take heart.

Barring unforeseen circumstances, it is anticipated the cameras will be deactivated shortly after the event concludes. No additional cameras outside the existing CCTV network are scheduled to be deployed.

Now I feel safe from Big Brother! As long as the CCTV doesn’t see any unforeseen circumstances then the MPD will not add more cameras and anticipates it will shut them off. Right…

Now if only the Institute for Applied Autonomy had iSee here in DC we could make it around the block without an eye around our life.

1 Comment so far

  1. Rob (unregistered) on April 8th, 2006 @ 4:06 pm

    I’m all for CCTV throughout DC, if it’s actually used appropriately to do something about the rampant crime and drug problems affecting our community. Enough with the big brother conspiracy theorists. It’s time to actually use technology to our advantage to clean the streets of DC. Too often, criminals are getting away because no eye witnesses are coming forward, or because there weren’t any.

    Of course, whether it could actually be “used appropriately” within the DCPD is another question…

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