Thursday, September 11, 2008


Video crime tips: more on technology in public life

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how the NYC police are accepting crime tips by text message. Well, in a new development, they’re now accepting snapshots and video recordings, as well:

The image could be a unique tattoo on the forearm of a suspected criminal in a robbery, or a shot of a license plate of a car fleeing a hit-and-run accident, Mr. Bloomberg said.

“We are also working to enable the Real Time Crime Center to send photos out to all patrol cars in the area of a crime,” he said. “We hope to have that up and running next year.

“This technology should put a scare into every would-be criminal,” the mayor said, adding that the chance of “getting caught in the act is now better than ever.”

I wonder about two things, with this plan:

The first is how they’ll deal with the inevitable fake evidence, something passed quickly through Photoshop or the like. If you want to hassle someone, this makes it nice and easy to get the police to do it for you. Of course, one could always have phoned in fake information, so it’s not a new attack. It’s just that we tend to give more credence to a picture than to the thousand words that it’s worth.

The second is what they’ll do with the video tips when the criminals they expose are the police themselves. One hopes they’ll take a tip sent to them as seriously as one posted to YouTube. We’ll have to see.

In any case, I think this is a wonderful idea, and I’d like to see more jurisdictions adopt it.

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