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You're Being Watched: Virtual Policing

With every new technology, whether we wear it, watch it, or use it to make our life more convenient, we may be giving valuable information about ourselves to others. Many fear that we are losing our rights to privacy, while others say that we should trade some privacy for safety. Whichever side of the argument you are on, the fact of the matter is that more and more people have access to some of our most private moments, including access by those in law enforcement.

Many police departments around the world are installing cameras all around major cities, such as cameras that can zoom in and identify the smallest details about a person. Other agencies are asking homeowners to share video from private surveillance cameras with law enforcement. And this isn't just happening in the Hollywood version of a CSI: Miami television show, this type of hyper-surveillance is happening in real life in our city.

Virtual Policing on the Streets

Within an extremely high-tech command center with several computer screens hooked up to large-screen, 55 inch high-definition TVs, the Miami Police Department is currently monitoring activities surrounding dozens of cameras located strategically along the Biscayne Boulevard corridor. These cameras have the capability to zoom in to the degree that a police officer can read the screen of an iPhone on video.

In addition, the system can read 10,000 license plates an hour and is hooked up to a national database in order to receive information regarding those plates. Law enforcement can also use the cameras to search the last 10 hours of footage for specific details such as "red car," and the system will pull all video of red cars in the specified time frame.

This $700,000 surveillance plan is set to continually expand in the coming years. The system can handle up to 2,500 cameras and is expected to eventually link with hundreds of red light cameras around the city for additional surveillance. The Department of Homeland Security is responsible for half of the bill for this program, while the other half is split between several local agencies.

Cities look to Private Cameras too

The City of Miami Beach just passed a bill that incentivizes local homeowners and business owners to share their private video surveillance footage with the police department. The bill states that if owners already have or are installing a video surveillance system around their home or business, the city will eliminate some permitting fees, and allow them up to three false alarms if they point one of their cameras toward a public right of way, and offer to share video footage with the police department. The cost savings to the owner is about $100, and even after registering for the program, the owner can decide not to share the footage with law enforcement. The City of Coral Gables already has a similar ordinance to ask citizens for private video footage.

If you've been accused of a crime where video surveillance footage has been used, it's important that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. Your attorney will be able to help you navigate the criminal justice system and your rights as the accused.

References:

Rabincrabin@MiamiHerald.com, C. (n.d.). Cop cameras now keeping eye out for crime on Miami streets. Retrieved May 26, 2017, from http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/crime/article6521466.html

Rabincrabin@miamiherald.com, C. (n.d.). Miami Beach has a deal: Point a camera to catch crime ... and skip some red tape. Retrieved May 26, 2017, from http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/crime/article152416864.html

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