Well, it’s happening in more places than just Baltimore, but they probably need the help more than most cities. The subject at hand is the trend of police departments solving crimes in greater numbers because of the increasing number of home and business owners who have external security cameras monitoring their property… and the street beyond. As this report from CBS Baltimore indicates, some cases which might otherwise have gone cold wound up being solved in short order.
When police needed a break to solve a high-profile murder in Federal Hill this year, they turned to neighbors who protect their own homes with security cameras.
For the first time ever, enough homeowners in Maryland have security cameras or video doorbell systems that police can tap into to solve crimes before they turn cold.
It’s like having dozens of police officers responding to a crime scene — except in reality it’s only a few officers.
That’s how local police are describing a relatively new crime-fighting tool that uses video from doorbell and security cameras to identify criminals and solve crimes.
That’s what happened in September when 25-year-old Timothy Moriconi was walking home from a relative’s house when someone came up and shot him in the head, apparently as part of a robbery gone bad. A person who lived in the vicinity heard the shot and went out to look, but the shooter was gone. The police were called, but Moriconi was pronounced dead at a local hospital. Nobody saw anything and there were no leads.
But the cops noticed that several of the residents in the area had security cameras installed on their homes and asked for the video. Soon they had a picture of the car used by the person fleeing the scene. Then from another camera, they had the license number. And now the suspect is in jail. Apparently, that’s happening more and more. As the price of these doorbell cameras and external security cams continues to come down, more and more homeowners and businesses are installing them. As long as they’re willing to turn over their recordings to the cops, it will be harder for people to commit crimes on the streets with impunity.
Of course, there’s one question hanging over this subject which I just have to ask. Every time I write anything about red light cameras, license plate readers or facial recognition technology, the libertarians come out of the woodwork screaming about how it’s an invasion of privacy and a plot by the government to monitor everyone’s movements and deprive them of their liberty.
Well… how about this? Is this okay? Are cameras installed by private citizens on their own property who then turn over video footage to the police something you can finally be comfortable with and give us a better chance of solving crimes? Or was this just unfair to the killer of Timothy Moriconi? Perhaps the cops should have been denied the video and left to sniff around the curb hoping the shooter left a trail of breadcrumbs.
If we get to the point where external home security cameras are so ubiquitous entire cities and towns are almost completely covered, criminals will eventually get the message. It’s certainly a cheaper solution than trying to afford a cop on every street corner in the country.