Thoughts From My Cab Driver

IMG_6719, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

So I don’t know how I got on this topic with my cab driver, considering the condition I was in, but he had some interesting thoughts on the crime cameras around town. He described the situation like this to me: “It is like going to the doctor before you are sick for advice, and all the doctor says is – Don’t worry I have plenty of medicine, come back when you are sick and I’ll give you medicine.” Or something along those lines. It is an interesting point. I do believe the cameras are good but I wish we’d hear a little more about some of the preventative measures that are being taken to compliment the camera usage. To me it seems like they can’t be considered a panacea but should only be one part of a greater preventative plan. What do you guys think about these cameras? Are they useful or a simply a psychological salve?

13 Comment

  • i think it’s great that they warn us with those signs. that way, i can make sure i wear a home-made mask that looks remarkably like my neighbor six houses down, and ensures that i limp a bit like he does when i try to toss a candy wrapper into the trashcan and miss, but don’t have enough time to go and pick it up cuz i’m late for work.

    i like to know where i’m being filmed so i can screw up the system.

    it would suck if they actually caught me.

    i know the cameras “work”, but i just don’t want them to work on me!

    smart people will always find a way to abuse the system.

    cameras only discourage dumbfucks.

  • For MPD to do preventive work, they would have to get more aggressive. Crack down on loitering, etc. To do so would bring a hail of complaints from many black people in the area that worry that their son/grandson/nephew will be unneccessarily harrassed. That’s the cycle we live in. Get tough on criminals and black and some Hispanic people may complain. It causes us to react to the problem instead of addressing it head on. In addition, sentencing would have to be tougher. However. no councilmember can stand up to the pressure of being accused of putting more black men in jail. So we do nothing.

  • I FIOAed DC on how often the cameras were used and how many times that information was used in an arrest. I got a response and hope to get out the information this weekend.

  • There has been one in the 1400 block of Girard now for a few years and we know how safe that block is!

  • Get tough on criminals and black and some Hispanic people may complain.

    Why and how, pray tell, does this have anything to do with Blacks and Hispanics? Not all Blacks and Hispanics are criminals or are related to them. They want to get these fools off the streets too!

  • Well, CCTV cameras haven’t worked in the UK. While there is no official tally of the number of cameras (estimates are as high as 15 million) they have been deployed like mad for the last few years and it hasn’t really helped their crime rate overall. The trends are unaffected.

    In fact, if it makes you feel any better, the crime rate in the UK — if you subtract murder (which is 5X higher here) — is actually significantly higher than the USA. Some suggest that if they could get their hands on more guns in Glasgow they’d make a more respectable showing in the murder race (although I still think Texans are better shots).

    For violent crimes (assault, robbery, rape) the rate in the UK is much higher, even though the Home Office in UK slyly puts out stats for “England & Wales” and “Scotland” separately to try and soften the numbers put up by my clansmen along the Clyde. Bottom line: the violent crime rate in the UK is over 4 times higher than the USA (UK 23 per 1000 (2005-6), USA 4.6 per 1000 (2005)).

    Even more interesting, the 2005 violent crime rate for DC (scary, crime city that we are) was 14.5 per 1000. That means that DC is almost TWICE as safe (statistically) as the UK average; safer than London at 22.2 per 1000 and Manchester at 16.4 per 1000. So the next time some smart arse Brit says anything about DC, be sure to say how happy you are you don’t live somewhere dangerous, like London or Manchester.

    Oh… and the assault whilst watching a soccer game rate is through the roof! 😉

  • Golden Silence,
    It’s similar to the school debate. A small, yet vocal, minority will make into a racial thing. Even if more aggressive policing benefits minorities the most. That is why DC’s police are extremely passive relative to VA or Montgomery County. Criminals in DC will tell you this. While not all blacks are criminals, a disproportionate number of murders, robberies, and assaults IN DC are committed by blacks.

  • Nathan: Not really a fair comparison regarding the crime “disproportionality” since DC is still an overwhelmingly black city, and sadly blacks make up the vast majority of young, poor, under-employed, and under-educated men — the demographic danger-zone for crime. It’d be just as easy to say “while not all white farm boys are criminals, a disproportionate number of meth labs are run by youthful crackers.”

  • Oden,
    DC isn’t overwhelmingly black. Overwhelming is Detroit. Blacks are roughly 55% of DC’s population. Yet, blacks account for ~99% of the murders and roughly 99% of all violent crime. If you don’t see that as disproportionate and TROUBLING, then we black people are truly in denial. As long as I have lived in DC, I can only think of maybe 1 or 2 killings where the suspect was white.

    If blacks make up a disproportionate % of poor, under-employed, and under-educated men, then that says more about them than anything else. One way to guarantee you will be poor, under-employed, and under-educated men is to a) drop out of school, b) get pregnant in your teens, c) go to prison. I don’t see that abating among young black men or women. If young black men AND women quit doing these things, they may not have the problems they have now. Stop blaming it on others man and recognize that WE have VERY Serious issues in our community.

  • Prince Of Petworth

    Let’s ease up on the racial aspect. This is a post about crime cameras and preventative strategy.

  • Nathan: “If blacks make up a disproportionate % of poor”? Do you doubt that? Are there even enough poor young white males in DC to fill a public swimming pool?

    While it’s nice to intone the “bootstraps” type argument, it doesn’t follow. On a macro level it’s easy to see why poor black males are caught in the cycle. A study in the 1990’s (chronicled in James Short’s “Poverty, Ethnicity, and Violent Crime” – no web link, sorry) showed that there is a fundamental difference between poor whites and poor blacks – namely where they live. The study found that of the 5 largest metropolitan areas in the USA, 70% of “poor whites” (whites under the poverty line) lived in “non-poverty areas” (areas where the per-capita income was above the poverty line), while only 15% of poor blacks lived in such areas. More staggeringly, fully 40% of poor blacks live is areas characterized by extreme poverty (median more than 50% below poverty line) compared to a mere 3% of poor whites living in such deprivation. Keep in mind also that this is METRO poverty, not rural poverty.

    So, in this chicken-or-the-egg argument about a city neighborhood getting better or kids shaping up spontaneously — it would seem that there is a good argument that the neighborhood has to get better first for the kids to follow.

    To put it simply, to be “urban poor” in the USA typically means to be black and poor more often than latino and poor or white and poor. One of the best-tested and most excepted social science tenents is that crime follows crushing poverty — so, voila, you have urban crime in USA = black crime.

    Finally, while I definitely agree that the crime rate in DC is “troubling,” regardless of who’s committing the crime, suggesting that “black crime is disproportionate” glosses over the facts of the situation.

    In every society you have a population of people subject to extreme poverty in an urban setting – a population of largely young males that then are more apt to commit crimes. In DC, where nearly all poor youths are black or latino, it is therefore no surprise (and no special failing of the black or latino community) that these men make up the population that commit crimes, just as in London — where assault rate is twice that of DC and the robbery rate is three times that of DC — over 70% of the offenders are whiter than my rear in the moonlight.

  • i’m white, and i pee’d in an alley the other night.

    does this count for anything?

  • SouthwestDC

    I don’t know if it will deter crime, but at least it might help the police catch criminals. I wish there had been a camera on my house two nights ago, when someone broke in and completely destroyed the place.

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