SPECIAL REPORT: Surveillance cameras affect on crime

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by Shari Dunn

MILWAUKEE---Video surveillance played a major role in the Boston marathon bombings.  With cameras tracking their every move the alleged bombers were caught in record time.

Just a few weeks ago it gave police here a play by play to a shocking broad daylight shootout in West Milwaukee.

But here's a question, does being under surveillance, really deter crime?

It depends on who you ask.  Alderman Bob Donovan says that on cameras in his district, on Milwaukee's near south side, placed through operation impact, a privately funded effort that he pioneered, have made a difference.

Cameras  like the one's at the Engine Blade and Prop on 35Th and National. Owner Betty Grinker says those eyes in the sky have made a difference helping to solve a bar robbery.

In fact most of the video from operation impact goes straight to the police and is seen at the communications center in the district three police station in Milwaukee, where cameras throughout the city are being monitored.

The exact number of  cameras the MPD has and the locations they won't disclose for strategic reasons. But they say officers have actually caught crimes in progress and dispatched squads to the scene. The officers monitoring surveillance are trained and looking for the same clues they would look for if they were actually out on the streets.

But it's that ability along with emerging facial recognition technology, that was once only seen in movies, that has the ACLU worried.

The ACLU says digital surveillance cameras could be part of a system that has the capacity to track you 24/7 and that police or other governmental agencies could use facial recognition technology to capture and catalog your image in a database without your knowledge.

But the MPD says that's not their aim and business owner Betty Grinker says she wants even more surveillance in her neighborhood and she's not concerned about the potential for the invasion of privacy. She says in her opinion pictures don't lie.

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