Monday, August 13, 2007

Gun Violence in Omaha Spurs Calls for 24-Hour Surveillance

by Kyle Michaelis
The Associated Press reports on the response to a proposal by Omaha Mayor Mike Fahey to install surveillance cameras in the city's high crime areas after a wave of shootings these last five weeks:
Residents in areas where shootings have become common would accept the installation of more surveillance cameras as long as their privacy is respected, a city councilman says. 
Mayor Mike Fahey made the camera proposal last week while announcing strategies to deal with a surge in violence that has seen 37 people shot, including two killed, since July 1. Councilman Frank Brown, who represents much of northeast Omaha, said feedback to Fahey's proposal has been mostly positive.... 
In addition to his surveillance proposal, Fahey wants increased staffing in the police gang unit and changes in city ordinances dealing with minors caught with guns....

State Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha said Fahey's proposals are "knee-jerk reactions." Chambers said eliminating the source of guns, not adding cameras, is the best solution to the violence.

"Until the source of guns is found, none of these plans or schemes will be a success," Chambers said. "If law enforcement agencies don't know where the guns are coming from, I suggest we make the kids the law enforcers because they certainly know where the guns are."
Who's right - Brown/Fahey or Sen. Chambers?

Of course, I don't foresee a whole lot of 16 year-old student deputies rising up to take back the streets like an army of Batman Juniors. Cameras definitely seem like the more reasonable alternative, even if Chambers is right to point out they're not much of a solution.

There are some legitimate concerns about the infringement on civil liberties (especially in the post-9/11, Bush-Cheney Era), but I assume these cameras would go only in public places where one can't reasonably expect much of a right to privacy, let alone a right to shoot a fellow citizen.

Besides, the city is going to have to replace its O! slogan sooner or later. I kind of like the idea of "Smile! Mayor Fahey Is Watching."

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