McCleary: Smile for the Cameras
Updated: Apr 17, 2021
In the quiet city of McCleary, Washington, where a little more than 2,000 people live. You can see kids riding their bikes and playing in the parks. A few small businesses of new and old line main street in and out of the city. It feels like a great place to raise a family.
But, is there someone other than parents watching over the children? Is someone watching the parents? The answer is, yes and yes.
Did you know that every main road entrance to the city, city parks and city owned buildings currently have 21 active cameras watching areas within the city? The city Mayor has the ability to place a camera at any public location within the city limits according to the city's surveillance policy, which was newly passed within the last year.
Is there a safety concern which has resulted in a surge in theft, property crime or violent crime? The tragic story of Lindsey Baum certainly comes to mind and its likely still in the minds of many in the community. A recent City Council meeting discussed the Lindsey Baum fund and even the city's webpage still has her picture and official public notice. However, before the camera installations, crime in McCleary sat twice as low as the states average and as much as three times lower than the national average in every category.
I reached out to all of the cities in the county and as far as surveillance, to my surprise there was quite a range, from no cameras to Elma leading with 40 cameras.
In general, surveillance systems have become exceedingly cheap yet remarkably high quality. Facial recognition software is not Sci-Fi anymore, it is real and it is already being used in places like University campuses. Camera software can now read license plates, determine vehicle speed, stopping distance on the road and identify the vehicles owner. Drones, aerial photography and its software can tell permitting departments if there are new structures or additions within a jurisdiction. The snitch is not your neighbor, it's in the sky and at the street corner.
Benjamin Franklin said, “They who can give up liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
The balance between security and safety should be discussed with your local elected officials. How many cameras are too many? You decide.