Video surveillance for Joseph Campau

Tuesday night, Hamtramck City Council will vote on a resolution authorizing a contract for the purchase $48,550 of video surveillance equipment by the Downtown Development Authority.
According to the resolution, ADT will provide four cameras. Three “to be placed along Jos. Campau between Holbrook and Caniff and one camera to be placed above ‘Shoppers World’ parking lot.” The DDA is asking for $19,000 from the city and “$29,550 – $28,550 will be financed”.
Video surveillance might seem like a good idea but all major studies show it doesn’t reduce crime. Independent analyses of crime data in the UK, where surveillance systems are prevalent, show that “video surveillance has no statistically significant impact on crime”. The preliminary US studies indicate “video surveillance system in the US little to no positive impact on crime”.
So how is this a good idea? If we did a cost-benefit analysis on purchasing $48,550 of video surveillance equipment, based on the studies, we would not benefit in reduction of crime. In short, it’s a waste of money.
Both the 2002 Welsh & Farrington study and the 2005 Gill & Spriggs study found that video surveillance appears to push crime 200-500 feet away from the cameras while the overall crime rate is unaffected. This is the unintended side effect, “pushing” crime away from the cameras and into the adjacent neighborhoods.
There are better ideas. The Department of Justice “best practices” to reduce crime are for more police patrols, more community policing, neighborhood watch, and improved communication between citizens and the police department.
Why not spend the $48,550 to police the DDA area on foot and bicycle patrols? Both are community policing and would make people feel safer in the district.
I think if we measured cost-benefit on both plans we’d find that the Department of Justice best practices would do more to reduce crime in Hamtramck than video surveillance.
There’s also the issue of protecting our civil liberties. In February 2009, Cambridge, Massachusetts city council voted 9-0 against installing a video surveillance system with a $4.6M grant from the Department of Homeland Security. Marjorie Decker, a Cambridge city councilor, said, “Because of the slow erosion of our civil liberties since 9/11, it is important to raise questions regarding these cameras,”.
It is not advisable, necessary, or in the public interest to finance a video surveillance system for the DDA district. There are more effective ways to combat crime. Let’s use our heads here and not jump on the surveillance bandwagon.

Welsh, Brandon C. and Farrington, David P., “Evidence-based Crime Prevention: the Effectiveness of CCTV.” Crime Prevention and Community Safety: An International Journal 2004, 6(2) 21-33.
Gill and Spriggs, “Assessing the Impact of CCTV.” (2005) Home Office Study. I relied primarily on Chapter 3: “Does CCTV Work: Its Impact on Crime and the Fear of Crime” for this section.

WCVB | City’s Move To Nix Security Cams May Cost Thousands

Loyalty and debate

“You see my kind of loyalty was loyalty to one’s country, not to its institutions, or its office-holders. The country is the real thing, the substantial thing, the eternal thing; it is the thing to watch over, and care for, and be loyal to; institutions are extraneous, they are its mere clothing, and clothing can wear out, become ragged, cease to be comfortable, cease to protect the body from winter, disease, and death. To be loyal to rags, to shout for rags, to worship rags, to die for rags — this is a loyalty to unreason; it is pure animal; it belongs to monarchy, was invented by monarchy; let monarchy keep it.” – Mark Twain – The Yankee

“We are Americans, We have the right to participate and debate any administration.” – Hillary Clinton

Residents oppose Hamtramck development project |

An abbreviated version of this story also ran today on page 2B of the Detroit Free Press

More than 100 people packed a room at the Hamtramck Public Library Tuesday night for a public hearing on the fate of the vacant Shoppers World in downtown Hamtramck.
Representatives of the city and the development team that wants to bring an Aldi grocery store and a senior living complex to the site made their proposals during a raucous meeting where numerous people opposed the project.
Many residents and business owners are concerned that the project will change the character of the city.
John Zurowski, who owns Polonia restaurant on Yemens, said he fears the project could take parking away from him and likely force him out of business.
“Small businesses make Hamtramck Hamtramck,” he said. “We say no to Aldi development.” His comments generated a thunderous round of applause.
Several residents and business owners supported the project.
Mark Hausner, local business owner and chairman of the downtown development authority, said the project is needed.
“This is America, not a communist nation,” he said. “You have a right to open a business in Hamtramck.”
On Tuesday, the City Council will vote on brownfield designation for the property that is home to the Shoppers World.
Officials said construction could start on the project, which would include the Aldi and three additional stories of senior housing, as early as next year.