Public surveillance from private property questioned

Georgetown plan raises new concern

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“If the cameras are not going to be live-monitored, there are even further questions about efficacy,” Mr. Verdi said of the Georgetown plan. “Folks end up spending a lot of money on the technology … but the benefits are marginal at best.”

In Chicago and Baltimore — where camera systems are much larger and live-monitored — the Urban Institute study found that crime did tend to decrease in neighborhoods under surveillance.

For the Citizens Association of Georgetown, which expects to shell out between $2,000 and $2,500 per camera, the possibility that the cameras will do some good is worth it.

“People are very concerned about people getting mugged. We’ve had some crimes involving guns here, and that’s very disturbing to people,” Ms. Colasanto said. “The No. 1 thing is peace of mind of the residents.”

Noting the faults he has seen in his block’s cameras, like when glare from headlight blocks a license plate number, Mr. Dent admits the cameras are not perfect.

“But they are significantly better than having no one there,” he said.

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