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A Citizen’s Eye View of Public Preparedness

Citizens (& Their Cellphone Cameras) Being Enlisted By New York Police Department

September 10th, 2008 · No Comments

One of the objectives to this blog is to highlight ways that average citizens can help law enforcement authorities on terrorism and other illegal activity, particularly utilizing new personal communications technology. To me, an important tangible (as well as symbolic) example is yesterday’s announcement from the New York Police Department that it wants civilians to send in video shot from their cellphones that might aid criminal investigations. As the New York Times reported this morning:

The police hope to build on the network of surveillance cameras, 911 calls, tip lines and text messages that are used to gather information and reports of crimes, tapping into the technology and habits that are already part of the daily behavior of millions of New Yorkers…

The idea takes the 911 call one step further. When a witness calls 911, the dispatcher takes the details of the crime and assigns a special code to the report if the caller says there are photographs or video that might help solve it. A detective then calls the tipster with instructions on how to send the visual data into a department computer…

But the plan was announced with a word of caution: ”If some big hulking guy is coming at you with a hatchet, I would suggest you don’t take out your camera and try to take a picture,” [Mayor] Bloomberg said. “You have to have some common sense.”…In early August, the police began asking residents to send text messages to 274637 (CRIMES). About 30 messages have been sent so far, and one of them could lead to an arrest, said Paul J. Browne, the department’s chief spokesman.

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Tags: See Something/Terrorism Tips

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