Thursday, April 17, 2008

Virtual Police Work

Is this a look at the future of police work? Viewed more than 13,000 times already, this video of a robbery in process was posted to YouTube by the Weld County Colorado Sheriff's department in hopes the culprits might be recognized and caught.

As the price of video surveillance falls and the popularity of YouTube rises, will we see videos like this replace cops on the beat? Possibly. And if so, won't that leave them freer to pursue bigger and more pressing cases? This kind of video use raises far fewer civil liberties concerns than the ubiquity of cameras in, say, downtown London. And even as the shame-faced victim of a speeding cam myself, I can say the preventive effect could be worth the loss of privacy in some settings. You can bet I've slowed down in the vicinity of that recent photo and whenever I see a "camera-enforced" speed limit sign!

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