Smile, You're On 911
New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg continues to churn out unique ideas for how to improve our fair city. Some, of course, have been better than others.
This initiative aimed at deputizing cellphone toting civilians as walking security cameras, while likely not without unintended consequences, could be one of the better ones (though, in fairness, it appears he stole it from Indiana).
"If you see a crime in progress or a dangerous building condition, you'll be able to transmit images to 911 or online to nyc.gov," Bloomberg said in his State of the City address.
"Information is the bedrock of good law enforcement," said John A. Feinblatt, the mayor's criminal justice coordinator.
"The more information that the police have and the more quickly that they get it, the more likely that they are going to fight a crime. "
There's reason to believe that may be true.
In just one of many cell phone justice stories, two Catholic schoolgirls surprised a subway flasher by snapping his mug with their camera phone in 2005. They provided the photos to police, who tracked down and arrested the man.
Adam Frucci at Gizmodo isn't convinced that New Yorkers are ready to responsible discharge the role of street crime documentarians.
Snapping pics of a robbery in process with your phone sounds great and all, but I predict that this will be used to report things like potholes and minor building code violations by neighbors a helluva lot more. If there's anything I know about us New Yorkers, it's that we never turn down an opportunity to bitch and moan.
It seems to me they ought to be able to string it up such that emergency-related images (fleeing purse-snatchers, tramway cars dangling above the river) to transmit to 911 dispatchers and non-emergencies (potholes, cabbies without EZ Pass, trans fat transactions, thousands upon thousands of Spitzer-Paterson campaign posters illegally affixed to public property) to 311 operators.
There'd inevitably be some frivolous and trigger-happy abusers, but the potential law enforcement and safety benefits would seem to justify the occasional clod who thinks a busted streetlight is an emergency. If the service works well and if early successes are sufficiently well-advertised, it could even have the effect of reducing street crime, assuming would-be snatchers and flashers are aware their mugs might be transmitted to the cops even before they've finished their lawscoffing.
Update: Karol's frightening brush with New York's criminal element is a good example of a situation in which the system might've come in handy. She was already pulling her phone from her purse when she stumbled upon the gunman.
Handcrafted by Flip on January 18, 2007 |
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