By Tom Vigilante, Jr.
I wonder what would have happened if video surveillance cameras were not able to provide the Federal Bureau of Investigation any identifying evidence of the terrorists responsible for the Boston Marathon bombing on April 15.
Once the FBI released still images and good quality video surveillance footage from a Lord and Taylor department store that publicly identified two male suspects in conjunction with the Boston Marathon bombings on April 18, federal authorities had their needle in a haystack of evidence to launch a massive manhunt to track down the terrorists. A day after the video footage was made public, one terrorist was dead and the other was in federal custody, preventing further harm to people living in Boston.
There is no doubt that surveillance video played a crucial role in solving the Boston Marathon bombing. Video cameras have helped solve and prevent other crimes as well.
The criminal investigation of the failed car bomb in Times Square in 2010 was helped enormously by surveillance video. Closed-circuit television footage identified four men involved in the London subway bombings in 2005 that killed 56 people. Phillip Markoff, who became known as the Craigslist killer, was captured in part because of video footage identifying him at the scene of the crime.
According to NBC News, more than 30 million video surveillance cameras have been installed throughout the United States over the last decade. There are surveillance cameras everywhere and you cannot operate on public property and public streets thinking that anything you do is private. And people are asking for more video cameras to be installed to catch criminals and deter terrorists.
Across the Atlantic Ocean, there is probably no other capital city intensively photographed as much as London. Great Britain currently has approximately 2 million surveillance cameras installed, which is an astounding one camera for every 32 people in the country. An average person walking throughout London can expect to be viewed on surveillance video hundreds times a day.
While privacy and civil liberties groups have recently expressed concern about too many video surveillance cameras being available for the government to view, I believe the good heavily outweighs the bad when it comes to having Big Brother watching over us. If surveillance video can help law enforcement officials solve a crime and prevent other crimes from being committed, I believe it is a fair trade for all of us to appear on video surveillance every now and then.
After all, what more could have happened if video surveillance cameras did not capture images of the Boston Marathon bombers?