Recently our little section of Eureka, the Old Town area made its way in the news, with word that a giant camera tower was installed in the Eureka Gazebo area.
While I was surprised at first, it took about 2 seconds to understand that it is a good idea putting some eyes in the sky to bring some law and order to the streets.
From the merchants perspective, these streets are getting worse. Of course I have countless examples, but why not share a few of the latest? We have one special case, a guy named Steve who continually gets arrested and has a history of burglary. He has attempted to enter my store several times, even though he has been told he isn't welcome. The last couple times I had to use a bit of physical effort to keep him out. The guy is a mess and the system has arrested him a half dozen times in the last sixty days.
Two weeks ago a group of 30 year old lazies that we nicknamed, "The Sons of Leisure" did something really ugly, four of them walked up to a homeless man and tipped over his shopping cart right on the sidewalk of second street. The incident was reported to police and in one of the local news blogs. While I have no idea who started the ruckus, a 4 on 1 fight is not something that should be happening anytime--anywhere.
Drug deals happen daily and in plain sight in the wild west portion of second street.
If you need more proof and think I am exaggerating, take out your smart phone and download the Neighbors App and register your zip code. If you put in 9-5-5-0-1, you will see burglaries and property crime galore.
I don't blame the police, because they are doing their jobs. To see the proof, simply look at the sheer number of people that get arrested. Take an extra few minutes and look at the last thirty days of arrests. You will see that many of the same people are getting arrested, charges often bounce between petty theft and public intoxication.
The arrests are happening, and i am thankful for that, so why are all these criminal drug addicts released so quickly after their arrests? I honestly don't know, that's not really my area of expertise. Is it crowded jails, backed up court dockets or something else?
So anyway back to the cameras. Yes, they are a good idea. Quite simply, if we are not going keep bad people in jail, then we need to make more overt, passive strategies to show that we still care about crime prevention. Cameras still have a little bit of affect on our local criminals. If they are about to do something naughty, looking up and seeing a camera sometimes makes them think twice.
As our local legal system continues to drift toward only incarcerating the most serious repeat offenders, I am thinking that these cameras will play a dynamic role in making sure that the daily offenses that take place on our street get recorded and help with the overall conviction rate.
I know the cameras make some regular folks feel uncomfortable. All I can say is too bad, we need them if we want to at least slow down the rising crime situation.