When surveillance is useful

When the Dayton City Commission entertained entering into a contract for a $1,000-an-hour eye-in-the-sky surveillance system, the civil libertarians and privacy advocates came out in droves.

Never mind that there are already cameras in almost every business you visit, every ATM you use, and even mounted on many homes. In South Park we bought 2 portable HD surveillance cams to be used by neighbors who’ve had problems, and a big debate was on where they could be mounted and what they could monitor (thanks mostly to two people for whom I have very little respect).

Yet, with the shooting in Ferguson, MO, there has been a renewed call for personal video cameras for police officers, something I was talking about back in April of 2013. In the Walmart shooting, there is an outcry for the release of the store video camera footage before the Grand Jury has met. Attorney General Mike DeWine has said it shouldn’t be released before the Grand Jury meets, and for once, I’m in agreement.

Those people asking for the footage, were probably the same ones who were anti-drone cam just last year.

Last Tuesday night, I was on my motorcycle when an idiot decided to turn left and hit the rear of my bike as I tried to radically maneuver out of the way. After he hit me, as I lay on the street underneath my bike, he took off. Had the city had an eye in the sky camera, they would have been able to follow his vehicle and catch him, but we didn’t adopt that technology.

Because I was wearing proper gear, and take my riding pretty seriously, I’m one of the lucky ones who gets to walk away from a pretty bad crash. Apparently, that makes it less important for the police to solve than an accident where there is a serious injury. I went to several of the businesses nearby to see if they have footage that shows the traffic, or the accident at the corner of Brown and Wyoming- but had limited luck. Then I started checking other places along the path that they traveled to get to the point of impact- and voila- video. The insurance company is very interested in finding the guilty party, and is investigating. Not that my accident was anywhere near the same magnitude of the Boston Marathon Bombing, but, given the resources and some detective work, it’s becoming much easier to piece together enough information to solve crimes like this.

The problem is, we don’t have the police department able to do it. Our staffing is at or near an all-time low. This is one of the reasons that they were looking at an eye in the sky to begin with.

However, there is also the just plain dumb luck option too- on the way home from the hospital, I saw a car that looked a lot like the one that hit me- right around the corner from my house. Parked right in front of a friend’s house that has video cameras. Resolution enhancement like what you see on 24 or CSI isn’t really possible- but, time and place, and actions can lead directly to who did it. We’ll wait and see if the person waits for the detectives to haul them in, or if they voluntarily turn themselves in.

I understand accidents happen. I’ve been in a few others in my life, but the punk move of taking off, while a guy is on the street pinned under a motorcycle- is unforgivable in my book. That’s why I’m not going to settle down until we find out who did it.

Just as the woman who used to live in my neighborhood who was so against security cameras (until her boyfriend’s car got totaled in the middle of the night- and her neighbors’ cameras caught it on tape and solved the crime) came around, I’m starting to be a proponent of full-time surveillance.

I’m still looking for witnesses, video, photos, from the night of Sept. 2 at Wayne and Wyoming. Please contact me, or Detective Seiter at the Dayton Police Department 937-333-1359 if you have more information.

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed! If you wish to support this blog and independent journalism in Dayton, consider donating. All of the effort that goes into writing posts and creating videos comes directly out of my pocket, so any amount helps!