October 9, 2006
If you consider video in the simplest of terms, video surveillance began with simple closed circuit television monitoring. As early as 1965, there were press reports in the United States suggesting police use of surveillance cameras in public places. In 1969, police cameras were installed in the New York City Municipal Building near City Hall. The practice soon spread to other cities, with closed circuit television systems watched by officers at all times (Roberts 1). At present time, people are being watched by surveillance cameras almost everywhere they travel. Surveillance cameras are in places like shopping malls, sporting events, schools, and places of employment. For example, "As part of the 1998 New York Civil Liberties Union Surveillance Camera Project, volunteers walked every block in Manhattan and found 2,397 publicly and privately controlled cameras trained on public spaces" (Smithsimon 1). Many schools and universities have relied for years on some degree of video surveillance to assist security guards on their campuses. Today, surveillance cameras are not novelties reserved for the most troublesome parts of school facilities and grounds. With the advance of technology, schools can have more cameras covering more parts of their campuses and delivering better pictures. In fact, a report published by the National Center for Education Statistics, "Indicators of School Crime and Safety, 2005" indicated that forty seven point nine percent of students twelve to eighteen years old attended schools that used one or more security cameras in 2003 (Kennedy 1). Promoters of surveillance cameras say that society is safer when people are under observation. However, does it really help prevent criminal behavior or assist in solving crimes? Take for example the case of a missing former University of Wisconsin-Madison student, which occurred in the spring of 2004. Police searched for Audrey Seiler and...
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