Policing By Camera: A Discussion of Red Light and Surveillance Cameras as a Tool of Law Enforcement
On Wednesday next week, the Show-Me Institute and the Saint Louis chapter of Liberty on the Rocks will co-host a discussion of the use of cameras in public places as a law enforcement tool. During the past few months, red light cameras and surveillance cameras have been in the news, and we’re excited to have Sen. Jim Lembke and Alderman Antonio French, both of whom have taken strong stances on these issues, speaking at this event!
The discussion will begin at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, June 9,
at the Show-Me Institute Office at 4512 W. Pine.
Please RSVP either by email, to [email protected],
or by phone at (314) 454-0647,
or by commenting on this blog post.
Sen. Lembke, who represents part of the city of Saint Louis and Saint Louis County, has spoken out against the use of red light cameras, on the grounds that they entail the presumption of guilt. As he said in a Post-Dispatch article, “[the use of red light cameras] takes liberty away in that there’s no other crime that I know of on the books where I as a citizen am guilty until I prove my innocence.”
Alderman French, who represents the 21st ward, has been campaigning hard to have surveillance cameras set up near high-crime areas in his ward. In the Riverfront Times blog, French explained that the crime is coming from a small group of people, and that surveillance cameras might deter that activity. From the RFT:
“It’s the same group of bad guys doing bad things,” French says. “We’ll advertise the hell out if it, that there’s cameras. One of reason people do things is because they think that can get away with it. If they know somebody is watching it’s very likely they’ll go somewhere else to do drug activity and violence.”
One of the most interesting aspects about the use of both red light and surveillance cameras is that the cameras will likely soon be able to identify, without a doubt, the individual committing a crime. At that point, although camera surveillance seems to be a particularly un-American activity, is there any constitutional argument against it? Do cameras really infringe upon our liberties if they are placed in public places where any police officer could also be placed?
French and Lembke will have the opportunity to answer these questions, and others, on June 9. If you are free, please drop by. The discussion will be informal; it our hope that attendees can ask the elected officials questions directly, and be part of an engaging conversation about the trade-offs between liberty and security.
Liberty on the Rocks is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, social organization that seeks to unite individuals, regardless of political affiliation, who desire liberty. With the goal of facilitating networks, friendships, and intelligent conversation, Liberty on the Rocks seeks to initiate the energy and dialogue necessary to move America from the grassroots up, toward the constitutional principles of freedom used to found this nation.