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Testing The Effectiveness Of The Cctv Cameras In West Palm Beach, Florida: Methodological Advancements In The Study Of Public Surveillance

1759 words - 8 pages

In recent years, there has been an intense proliferation of Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) surveillance cameras in the United States, as well as abroad (Caplan, Kennedy, & Petrossian, 2011; Gill & Spriggs, 2005; La Vigne, Lowry, Markman, & Dwyer, 2011; Piza, 2012; Ratcliffe, 2006; Welsh & Farrington, 2009). In Great Britain alone, the expansion of CCTV systems is well documented (Armitage, 2002; Gill & Spriggs, 2005; Welsh & Farrington, 2009). This vast expansion can be traced back to the Home Office in Great Britain, where they issued a call to law enforcement agencies to use CCTV-related initiatives as a viable crime prevention strategy (Painter & Tilley, 1999). In 2002, it ...view middle of the document...

Not only are camera systems costly to implement, but are also costly to maintain (Armitage, 2002; La Vigne et al., 2009). In a recent review of U.S. cities that have implemented a camera system, La Vigne et al. (2011) found that the initial start up cost for the Baltimore, MD CCTV system was just under $5.5 million; however the cost of maintenance, personnel and the daily use of the camera system brought the total cost to just over $8 million. Start up costs are only a small part of the overall CCTV expenditure, with funds needed to replace broken cameras, readjust misaligned antennae to maintain the wireless network communication, and to staff the operation (La Vigne, et al., 2011; Ratcliffe, Tanguchi & Taylor, 2009). Ratcliffe, Tanguchi & Taylor (2009) explain that the CCTV system in Philadelphia, PA costs around $200,000 per month in maintenance costs. In Newark, NJ, it was found that each individual camera cost approximately $10,000, bringing the total implementation costs for the city to just over $1.5 million (personal communication, Eric Piza, Assistant Professor, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Department of Law and Police Science).
Given the popularity of CCTV, and the increased cost of implementing such systems, it seems that policy makers consider CCTV systems a great benefit to society. However, a review of the relevant literature reveals that this worldwide embracement of the use of CCTV has occurred regardless of evidence. The overall effectiveness of CCTV systems has yet to be proven conclusively.
With these studies, there also seems to be a lack in methodological rigor that can be seen in other criminal justice research and evaluation (Short & Ditton, 1995; Weisburd, Lum, & Petrosino, 2001). Previous evaluations of CCTV have almost exclusively used large areas such as whole neighborhoods or cities as the unit of analysis, which fails to account for the actual line-of-sight of each camera (Brown, 1995; Caplan, Kennedy, & Petrossian, 2011; Piza, 2012). Hence, while the vast majority of studies on CCTV attempted to measure its deterrent effect on crime, by implementing large target areas such as “town centers” or “downtowns,” researchers have failed to actually measure deterrence (Caplan, Kennedy, & Petrossian, 2011; Welsh & Farrington, 2009). Other studies incorporated a 360-degree circular buffer around camera sites, however there is little conceptual thought given to the exact distance of the buffer diameter, leading to the wide variability found in previous research (Caplan, Kennedy, & Petrossian, 2011; Gill & Spriggs, 2005). Even with studies that incorporate this buffer area technique, prior research still fails to account for the camera’s direct line-of-sight (See Hurley, 2002; Mazerolle, Hurley, & Chamlin, 2002 as an example of this buffer technique). Cameras can rarely cover these larger geographies in their entirety, and from a deterrence point of view, a potential offender is only likely to be aware of a camera...

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