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January 20, 2012

Put On The Red Light: East Orange, NJ, To Shine a Red Spotlight On Suspected Pre-Crime Targets

I don't think this is as creepy as it initially sounds. The idea is that there are red lamps atop surveillance cameras. Rather than the cameras just passively recording scenes, cops monitoring the cameras will choose to aim the red lamp at suspected malefactors, letting them know they're being watched.

It strikes me that this is similar to the debate over concealed carry/open carry. In concealed camera, the idea is that it would reduce crime if anyone could be carrying a gun, so don't mess with citizens.

The crime-control argument for open carry is: Yes, but that's all hypothetical and probabalistic and therefore abstract and therefore largely ignored. If a criminal sees a guy wearing a gun, it's tangible, and he knows to go elsewhere.

If you have the cameras in the first place (which seems the real place to lodge a libertarian complaint), I'm not sure if there's any additional problem with letting the people who are being watched know they're being watched.

I know this tells the criminal not to commit the crime, and hence you can't arrest him, but then, there is a value in that crime not being committed, isn't there?

Now, one problem is similar to the knock on open-carry (as far as crime deterrence): if you don't see the red light, is that then a green light?

And how many of these can really be manned?

As O'Reilly says, now tell me where I'm going wrong. I suppose the main objection is that it extends the power of police harassment and surveillance. Which I do get.


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posted by Ace at 01:32 PM

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