They're in stores, gas stations, banks, buses, police cars, on street
corners and in homes. They're security cameras keeping an eye on everything
and everyone passing by. And the images they capture are being used more
frequently than ever by Bergen County police in their investigations.
As surveillance cameras have dropped in price with advances in digital
technology, they've soared in use across New Jersey, providing evidence
in a wide range of criminal cases, from
traffic violations to homicides.
Just last week, national attention was focused on the use of security cameras
in apprehending a suspect in the New York City slaying of eight-year-old
Leiby Kletzky. Earlier this month, attention was on a Hoboken man arrested
after investigators spotted him on video as he walked down a street after
allegedly lifting a Picasso sketch from a San Francisco art gallery.
Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli told NorthJersey.com that his
office makes use of video in approximately 15 percent of investigations.
He says the videos might not show the crime or the suspect, but they can
nevertheless reveal information that points toward the person eventually
charged with a crime.
New Milford's police chief says the technology is the wave of the future
and Ramsey's chief says the first thing his officers ask now at a
robbery scene is if there's video of the incident.
The technology is not without its critics, however. Civil liberties groups
say surveillance cameras infringe on privacy and wind up costing taxpayers
a bundle while doing little to put a real dent in crime.
For example, across the country, municipalities are giving up on the red-light
cameras not long ago popular as a means of raising revenues without raising
taxes. Research now shows the cameras might actually cause more car accidents
while failing to stop people from running red lights.
"Kelly: Cameras are eyewitnesses police can depend on" by Mike Kelly: July 18, 2011