Evanston has bought new crime control cameras recently, but a new study is raising questions about the effectiveness of such devices.

The study from the University of California at Berkeley says the cameras have no effect on the frequency of most types of crime — although they do tend to move homicides and nonviolent thefts down the block.

Despite the study, reported in the San Francisco Chronicle, that city’s mayor says he still wants more cameras because they make residents feel safer.

But other city officials are holding off on adding 25 more cameras to the 68 the city already has installed until a final, more detailed report from the study is released.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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1 Comment

  1. Interesting: are the results here what we’re looking for?
    The article specifically mentions that criminals are not caught by use of the San Fransisco cameras, but I’d like to see the data for Evanston: remember that our Laundry Room burglar was caught through use of a camera, and I believe the cameras have had a major impact on several shootings on Howard Street. However, one issue that has seen a marked decrease since the camera was installed at the corner of Brummel and Custer: youth brawls and violence, which aren’t mentioned in the above study. While, of course, we want all crimes to disappear, I doubt anyone expects the cameras to replace police work. However, the violent behavior in Brummel Park has a negative impact on both the neighborhood and the amount of tax dollars wasted in police intervention; if the cameras do decrease that, then they’re saving us money.

    I wish the article had discussed the difference in impact of a visible camera vs a hidden monitor: although City cameras are marked and visible, security cameras for most businesses and private property (which are also used by police to solve cases) are not.


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