Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Long Beach Common Operating Picture - Two Edged Sword

In the middle of last month, the Long Beach California Police Department (LBPD) unveiled the Long Beach Common Operating Picture (LBCOP), a city-wide video surveillance system.  Unique to the system, the Long Beach Police tied together not only the various video cameras of the city, but also those of business owners and citizens who wanted to be part of the system.  Additionally, other elements of existing technology like Automatic License Plate Recognition and criminal record searches have been coupled to the system as a way to focus the city's crime fighting technology in one place.  State and Federal grants were used to pay the majority of the $568,000 it took to build the system over the past two years.  Use the links below to read related articles or to view the press conference video (2:12):

Long Beach Unveils Cutting Edge Crime Fighting Technology (Long Beach Police Department News Release, August 13, 2012)

For a more detailed video review of the Long Beach system, click here (4:53)

Comment: As would be expected, those with "Big Brother" concerns immediately seized on this development as an invasion of privacy. Although Long Beach Mayor Robert Foster and Police Chief Jim McDonnell tried to alleviate those concerns by pointing out the system would be used primarily to provide support during a reported crime event, and business and private cameras in the system were contributed voluntarily, an unspoken issue was something that had happened one month earlier when the LBPD raided a "medical marijuana clinic" in the city.  In that event, LBPD officers were shown smashing at least one of the store's video surveillance system cameras in a segment run on a local television station.  Therein lies the two edged sword. Long Beach is well deserving of considerable accolades for this inventive approach that will improve public safety and ultimately save lives of citizens and officers. But, that value to the common good will quickly fade if the public believes they are being denied the ability to use the same technology to safeguard their interests.

With that said - press on Long Beach Police Department - we're wishing you the best with this ground breaking effort!  

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