- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 28, 2007

A weekend shooting in Adams Morgan that injured two men occurred on a block where police deployed a surveillance camera in September. But police say the only footage they captured was of a victim nursing his wounds on a sidewalk after the shooter drove off.

The camera showed “nothing that’s going to close the case out,” said Metropolitan Police Cmdr. Larry McCoy, who heads the department’s 3rd District.

The two men were shot and injured in daylight while they were walking in the 1600 block of Euclid Street, according to police. One man was hit in the right arm, and the other was hit in the left foot.

D.C. Council member Jim Graham said Sunday on an online community forum that the shooting occurred about 3 p.m. Saturday and that the shooter was in a dark Honda that later crashed in the 2500 block of Ontario Road Northwest. He said that police recovered bullet casings from the car and that neither of the victims were thought to have been the target.

Cmdr. McCoy said the cameras captured what police think was the shooter’s car driving by, but they obtained no useful information from the footage. No arrests had been made in the case as of last night.

Mr. Graham, Ward 1 Democrat who represents the neighborhood where the shooting occurred, originally said on the online forum that he had gotten a “positive, preliminary report from MPD that the camera has retrievable as well as helpful film on this shooting.”

“I sure hope so,” he said. “We have a lot invested in these machines, and I hope they are going to contribute to crime-fighting in the District of Columbia.”

The camera, located at 17th and Euclid streets Northwest, was one of 48 installed in high-crime neighborhoods during August and September at a cost of $2.3 million. The council approved $1.7 million in October to purchase additional cameras.

Mr. Graham acknowledged Tuesday that the cameras haven’t proved to be very effective yet.

“These cameras are extremely expensive and don’t appear to be doing very much, and maybe we don’t know how to use them,” he said.

Still, Mr. Graham defended the cameras as a new tool that authorities are still getting used to.

“I think the cameras have very limited utility, but that limited utility is helpful as a tool,” he said. “We’ve just got to understand them a little bit better.”

Some cameras may need to be tweaked, Mr. Graham said. The camera in Adams Morgan, which pans the area, rotates “fairly quickly” and may need to be slowed down, he said.

The cameras were introduced as part of an emergency measure by Chief Charles H. Ramsey in response to a crime increase last summer. The council gave permanent approval for the use of the cameras in December.

Council member Phil Mendelson, at-large Democrat and chairman of the committee with oversight of the police department, said he is not opposed to the idea of crime cameras but that he would like to see whether they could be deployed more effectively.

“The cameras are enormously popular, but the jury is still out on whether they are cost-effective in fighting crime,” he said.

The cameras are not monitored in real time. The cameras record on a continuous loop, and their footage can be downloaded and reviewed if a crime is reported nearby.

Mr. Mendelson said he opposes real-time monitoring of the cameras.

A surveillance camera in Southeast recorded a man entering an apartment complex just before he and a 14-year-old boy were fatally shot in September. Police said the camera did not catch the shooting or provide police with a description of the killer.

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