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California Briefing / LOS ANGELES

Study questions LAPD cameras

June 19, 2008|Joel Rubin

An academic study has raised questions about the effectiveness of police surveillance cameras used in some parts of the city.

The study, conducted by a group of graduate student researchers at USC, concluded that cameras in public areas of the city's Jordan Downs housing project and along parts of Hollywood Boulevard had had no significant effect on crime rates or arrests.

Based on their findings, the study's authors cautioned law enforcement officials that such monitoring "is a tool . . . not a panacea."

On the heels of the study, Peter Bibring, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, called on City Council members to halt the installation of any new cameras and to reconsider the use of existing ones. The cameras, he wrote in a letter to council members, raise "a threat" to privacy rights.

Los Angeles Police Deputy Chief Charlie Beck said he welcomed the study's conclusion that "cameras by themselves are not the answer." He challenged the researchers' methods, however, saying the scope of the study was too narrow and it failed to take into account the effect of other anti-crime efforts in the monitored areas.

He also dismissed the ACLU's concerns, saying that the department has "adequate safeguards" in place to guard against invasion of privacy.

-- Joel Rubin

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