The use of public surveillance cameras, or closed- circuit television (CCTV), is becoming more and more widespread across the United States. There is a debate whether surveillance cameras should be put in public areas, such as schools, libraries, airports, multi- family apartment buildings, office buildings, malls, and stadiums. Some individuals feel more secure with surveillance cameras in place, while others do not like the idea that someone is watching them whenever they are out in public. I feel that having cameras is very beneficial to the safety and well- being of all, and I would like to see more cameras being installed.
The main benefit of surveillance cameras in public places is the increase in safety. With the aid of these cameras, the police can prevent crimes from happening and also solve criminal cases with proof provided from the cameras. They also can be of assistance when there are amber and silver alerts, as cameras allow us to refer back to a possible sighting of a lost or abducted child or a missing senior citizen. Cameras can also be used to protect against theft and vandalism. The mere sight of a camera is often intimidating enough to stop a would be criminal from carrying out his intended action. When a crime has been committed, cameras can provide material evidence regarding the perpetrator of the crime. Surveillance cameras afford a feeling of safety, security, and peace of mind, and are therefore popular with those who are serious about protecting their loved ones and their assets.
There are people who say that the use of surveillance cameras in public areas without their consent is an invasion of their privacy. They resent being watched constantly and feel that it is a loss of freedom for them that their comings and goings are known to others. Some even equate this loss of freedom to being in prison. They say that there are not enough crimes or violations committed to warrant being observed on a regular basis. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has come out very strongly against public video surveillance cameras. They claim that law enforcement agencies have improperly used information collected from cameras for illegal and abusive ends.
My belief is that the benefits that the surveillance cameras provide, outweigh the possible disadvantages. The reason we install surveillance cameras is to keep people and property safe. The intent is not to stalk anyone but rather to protect. The cameras provide material evidence when a crime has been perpetuated. Cameras are not allowed in areas where people can expect privacy such as bathrooms and changing rooms. It is also not permitted for private people to use hidden cameras to spy on others, or to record their behavior without their knowledge and consent. However in public areas, I feel, cameras can be a valuable weapon that could and should be used in the war against crime. To the claim that there are not enough crimes committed to warrant being observed, I respond that even one violent crime is too much. I recall a tragic event that occurred in Brooklyn seven years ago. A young boy, Leiby Kletzky, was kidnapped as he walked home from day camp. With the aid of surveillance cameras installed outside local stores, the police became aware of the license plate number of the vehicle used in the abduction and were able to learn the identity of the kidnapper. Sadly, the young boy was murdered before the police located the apartment where he had been taken. However, because of the surveillance cameras in the neighborhood, the police were able to prevent this dangerous criminal from ever harming another person.
There is much to be gained with the use of public surveillance cameras. They increase security, reduce crime, and help catch criminals. Today we live with constant threat of attack from suicidal bombers and solo gun men and must do whatever we can to live safer. The installation of surveillance cameras is certainly an integral step in increasing public safety.
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