Surveillance cameras monitored by police could be installed along Main Street in an effort to deter crime in the downtown area, Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt said today.
He said the project is still in the planning stages, but he hopes to have a least five cameras up this year.
''I know a lot of people are concerned about big brother, but my response to that is if you aren't doing anything wrong why worry about it,'' he said.
Hurtt said the department needs a mix of more officers and technology to fight crime.
''I don't think anyone in this room believes we can afford to hire enough officers to put one on every corner, but we can have cameras to relay activity to the authorities,'' he said.
Hurtt said installing cameras would be less expensive than hiring officers. He said the Downtown Management District has recommended the idea and would be willing to fund the project should it be approved by the district's board.
''Once you buy the equipment and you put it in place and you have a maintenance contract in place, I would think it would be less expensive then paying officers to stand on those corners," he said.
If there were solid evidence that surveillance cameras actually did reduce crime, I'd be happy to engage in a discussion about whether or not the tradeoff of security for liberty was worth it. But as Scott points out, all the evidence from London, home of CCTV cameras on every street, is that it has no effect. Why would we want to emulate that?
''I think people are upset when people are robbed and killed on the streets of Houston and there is a lot of controversy about that,'' he said. ''We are trying to respond to that. I don't see a lot of people standing up and saying tax me for public safety.''