Saying Privacy Is 'Off the Table,' NYC Police Commissioner Demands More Surveillance Cameras


Reason 24/7

From the Department of Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste comes word that New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly thinks that now is a great time to install even more surveillance cameras hither and yon around the Big Apple. After the Boston Marathon bombing, the Tsarnaev brothers were famously captured on security camera footage and thereby identified. That just may soften up Americans to the idea of the all-seeing glass eye. "I think the privacy issue has really been taken off the table," Kelly gloats.

From WNYC:

Could more cameras in New York City help prevent attacks like the one at the Boston Marathon? That's what Police Commissioner Ray Kelly says the NYPD is looking into.

The department already uses so-called smart cameras that hone in on unattended bags, and set off alarms.

Kelly dismisses critics who argue that increased cameras threaten privacy rights, giving governments the ability to monitor people in public spaces.

 "The people who complain about it, I would say, are a relatively small number of folks, because the genie is out of the bottle," Kelly said. "People realize that everywhere you go now, your picture is taken."

Surveillance cameras helped authorities find the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing — giving more fuel to NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly's argument that the more cameras exist, the better.

The NYPD is touting its use of the so-called smart cameras that have been used for nearly a decade in Lower Manhattan to identify potential threats such as unattended bags left for too long.

As Reason's own Brian Doherty has pointed out, surveillance advocates conveniently forget that it was private security cameras from which footage is shared with authorities only in emergencies, like the aftermath of the bombing, that did the honors in Boston. Cautions Doherty:

The public spaces of Boston were already filled with enough private cameras to close the net on the suspects. Ubiquitous public cameras—watched always by officials with power over us—raise obvious problems, as the American Civil Liberties Union has noted, of criminal abuse, institutional abuse, personal abuse on the part of officials, discrimination, and rampant voyeurism.

Of course, what Kelly wants is public cameras — specifically, an expanded network of police-controlled "smart" cameras watching the city and responding automatically to perceived dangers. With the public frightened and in no mood to consider that surveillance cameras pose their own dangers, he just might get his wish.

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  1. Firstest?

  2. Yay!

      1. Look, he needs something to fill in the void. Why else would anyone be posting here on a Thursday night?

        1. Yeah, what kind of loser would do that.

          1. I wouldn’t touch that with a ten-foot pole.

            Hey look, an 11-foot pole!

            1. Where are you finding such tall Polish people?

              1. He has a broken tape measure – it shrunk.

              2. He’s using the metric side. It’s actually 11cm.

                1. 11 inch Pole could be interesting, but intimidating.

      2. Fuck you, Fist, you unvirtuous blowhard.

        1. BEHOLD, THE CLASSLESS FIRSTER. One does not gloat in one’s first in thread, one let’s the first stand on its own merit as all others around seethe with envy.

          1. Plus, I thought being first only counts if you actually say something relevant to the subject matter, rather than just saying “first”. This isn’t The Comics Curmudgeon for crying out loud.

  3. Yeah, cameras certainly stopped the Boston Marathon bombing. Didn’t they?

    1. It was a lack of government cameras that was the problem. A government camera would have caught this earlier, and tracked her ass all day.

      1. Track it, sure, but they couldn’t share it with another agency, which is a damn shame for that other agency.

    2. well, if they had guns attached to the cameras, then they might have stopped the atrocities..with the push of a button and no officer safety issues to deal with.

      1. Yeah, but could the guns have killed the dogs?

        1. Yeah, but could the guns have killed the dogs?

          Depends if the camera feels threatened by a dog running away from it.

          1. Oh, we can program the cameras to feel threatened.

      2. was the coolest, while it lasted. If we had a free-market of ideas in America, would still be with us.

        1. NOT advocating it for the police, juust everybody else.

    3. No, but they sure helped solve it quickly.

  4. So private cameras are great but they wouldn’t work the same way if they were publically owned? Vodoo much? Cameras have been a big reason why crime has declined in the last twenty years, most of them private but some of them public. I don’t want cameras on every corner, looking into private citizens homes, but I don’t see why we should up and dismiss the idea of more cameras in public places. It is called a “public” place for a reason.

    1. I don’t see why Cameras would have led to so much of the decline in crime. I can see how it would combat the kid who robs the convenience store, but what of the murderer or the drug dealer? I think one convincing explanation is the high prevalence of abortion, as outlined in the book Freakanomics.

      1. You speak as if the kid who robs the convenient store is somehow distinct from the murderer and the drug dealer. By imprisoning thieves you are imprisoning the future murderers and drug dealers. If you look at the statistics you will see that the decrease in crime was accompanied by a large increase in prison population. That, more than anything else, is the reason that the rate of crime has decreased. The problem with the Freak argument is that although the rate of abortion dramatically increased the rate of bastard children also dramatically increased, as did the rate of children born who were supposedly “unplanned.” The increase in the abortion rate was more than offset by an increase in the conception rate. The entire freak argument is that criminals are the products of the situations abortion is supposed to prevent, but it hasn’t prevented these things.

        1. “By imprisoning thieves you are imprisoning the future murderers and drug dealers.”

          OK, folks, how many logical errors can you find in JUST ONE SENTENCE?
          It’s American posting so the number has to be quite high!

          1. I’m sure glad we locked away that kid for stealing that loaf of bread. Little shit would have killed somebody in a few years. Bet your ass.

            1. And the kid might have sold an once of WEED! Imagine the horror; we could have jammed his ass in jail at 14 and given him a real training in felony U.

            2. Burglary is a gateway crime!

    2. The number of males aged 13 – 25 (or so) has more to do with that than any cameras.

    3. There is literally no evidence that the number of cameras has had any impact on crime. We have an older population than we did then, and people are wealthier overall, despite the recession.

      Those have much more of an impact than the number of cameras. Cameras might catch someone at a later date, but they don’t have much of a deterrence effect.

      1. Does wealth really make much difference?

        Anecdotally, there seem to be a lot of people who became wealthy yet did not begin being law-abiding. Loads of entertainment figures come to mind, and then there are those who make fortunes off of contraband who never go straight either.

        Haven’t seen any studies on this at all, so I don’t know if there are any stats on it.

        1. Look at the crime rates among the poor vs. the wealthy and middle class. It’s not even comparable.


          Here’s a Bryan Caplan article about it. Furthermore, the poor generally have worse impulse control. Poor people are more likely to buy things like lottery tickets, for example, then put that money in a bank where it would improve their lot. They’re also more likely to smoke for the same reason.

          1. I don’t know if economic shortsightedness is necessarily an impulse control issue. Poor people tend not to save because limited savings quickly get eaten up by surprise expenses such as a car breaking down, which negatively reinforces for saving. It becomes an issue of spending the money in a way you find enjoyable before it gets allocated to something else, and then financing the crisis spending (people are just like our government!)

            1. There’s actually been evidence about this.

              They have found that impulse control as early as 4 years old is an indicator of later economic success.

              They asked children if they’d rather have one marshmallow now or two marshmallows if they waited 15 minutes. The children that chose to wait were later found to be more successful by virtually every measure.

              Obviously, if you have bad impulse control and are lucky enough to be born in a rich family, you could very well end up wealthier than someone from a poor family with great impulse control. But all else being equal, lower income people tend to buy more things they don’t need and have a harder time saying no to instant gratification.

              This also could help explain crime among the low income. If you want instant gratification, what’s faster? Study and work hard, or grab somebody’s wallet?

              1. I suppose I’m arguing that impulse control is more a symptom than a cause of poverty. If you don’t believe you have the potential for a future better than your parents, and your parents live paycheck to payday loan, there’s no reason to self-discipline. I guess you could argue the other way just as easily.

          2. I was not asking about people who are from families of means, I was asking if there is any evidence that coming into wealth is any sort of cure.

            If coming into wealth does not cure the problem, then a lack of wealth is not the disease.

            1. That’s a good question, and I don’t have any evidence either way.

              Although, arguing strictly from anecdote, when’s the last time Snoop Dogg sold drugs?

              1. That is one I don’t think should be a crime, but it is. If we are using it as a test, when do you think the last time Snoop Lion (name change recently, right?) committed a drug crime? My guess is while I was typing this.

                1. when do you think the last time Snoop Lion (name change recently, right?) committed a drug crime? My guess is while I was typing this.

                  I actually laughed when I read this. Good point.

                  When it comes to drugs, it’s likely that the rich simply get away with it, which doesn’t really prove my point.

                  Any argument about why crime has dropped will run into problems of correlation vs. causation. Example: Freakonomics argued that abortion is one of the reasons for the crime drop because there are fewer children being born to the high risk. The problem with this argument is that the crime rate among low income males has also dropped. So simply saying ‘there are fewer low income males’ doesn’t give you the answer because the crime rate has dropped among those that are born, and therefore abortion can’t be the only cause.

              2. Better version, do the real hard core folk who have a history of crimes against people, assaults and such, stop doing it when they become wealthy?

                Evidence that they don’t:
                Mel Gibson
                The NBA
                The NFL
                Certain singers
                Tyra Banks

                1. It might not be the same people though. If increases in wealth occur over time, we’d be talking about different groups of individuals.

                  The people who were committing crimes in the early ’90s are not the same people who are prone to crime today. The people committing crimes in the ’90s would be in their 40’s now, and the people committing crimes today are the young.

                  The issue would therefore be whether or not being born slightly wealthier makes you less prone to crime than you would have been otherwise, not whether or not people stop committing crimes once they become wealthy.

                  1. The people who were committing crimes in the early ’90s are not the same people who are prone to crime today. The people committing crimes in the ’90s would be in their 40’s now, and the people committing crimes today are the young.

                    That goes back to the age-old issue of young males (is it 14 or 14 – 24 or 30 or something) who commit most of the crime. As they age, they generally stop engaging in that sort of thing.

              3. The majority of lottery winners blow their winnings in a few years. If I remember right, they had lost 75% of their principle winnings in about 4 years on average.

            2. I think you’d get a more useful answer if the children of the nouveau riche ended up exhibiting the criminal behavior of their parents. Children of successful mobsters might be an interesting counter example, but I doubt they see themselves as being criminals quite the way we do, so much as seeing themselves being part of a separate ethical system.

              1. Maybe we could find a group of boys who all became somewhat wealthy and compare their behavior. Can call it the Baldwin study.

      2. It’s not like the crime rate was steady before that. There had been a spike in crime that lasted a couple decades, and now there’s been a decline. Perhaps the trend will change course in the future

        1. That’s true. People talk about what’s happened recently that made crime drop, but I wonder if we’re not close to the level of crime America should have. It’s possible that the high crime of the ’70s and ’80s was the aberration, and the lower crime of today is the norm.

          1. It’s possible that the high crime of the ’70s and ’80s was the aberration, and the lower crime of today is the norm.

            I credit video games for the drop in crime.

          2. If I recall, all of those peaks and valleys tracked with the male youth population.

            1. In a just society, men and women would commit crimes equally. The patriarchy is making those peaks and valleys correlate with young men.

    4. American| 4.25.13 @ 8:08PM |#
      “So private cameras are great but they wouldn’t work the same way if they were publically owned? Vodoo much?”

      Stupid much?
      Oops; it’s American, so, yes.
      Hint: Private camera data doesn’t automatically end up in gov’t hands, idiot.

  5. The cameras should snap photos at set intervals and automatically upload those pictures to a tumblr page. Citizens from around the globe could make daily visits to that page and then muster on reddit to suss out who looks like a likely terrorist. It would be good practice.

    Also, the cameras should have speakers so that officials could sound the Shelter-in-Place alarm when necessary for imminent threats (or just to give Bloomberg some peace and quiet on the streets).

    1. Actually… what about making the camera feeds publicly available? I have mixed feelings about the rise of surveillance cameras, and that seems like it would make me less worried.

      1. We used to have a hospital administrator who had home internet access to the video cameras focused on the employee entrances. We always pictured him wearing a filthy t-shirt and breathing heavily as he watched staff enter and exit the facility. (Thankfully he didn’t last long.)


  6. surveillance advocates conveniently forget that it was private security cameras from which footage is shared with authorities only in emergencies

    But what if those private camera operators don’t even care if they have slam dunk proof some twenty year old is smoking a cigarette on a streetcorner? The Law is the Law, you know.

    1. OK, seriously, what is the problem with having cameras on the PUBLIC streets? Not talkin’ about peeking in your bedroom or seeing what you have for dinner … but on the Public Streets … If you are gonna wear the “Fuck You, That’s Why.” T-shirt, are you embarrassed that someone records it for posterity? Again, not within your appurtenance, but on the public streets…

      1. OK, seriously, what is the problem with having cameras on the PUBLIC streets?

        How would you feel if you were walking down the street and some sketchy looking guy starts to leer at you? Wouldn’t you be concerned? And then, he starts following you. He doesn’t do anything, he just follows you and leers at you.

  7. More cameras, because Fuck You, That’s Why.

    1. So, if NYC installs cameras to do the job of the police, can we eliminate police officer jobs? I mean, with all those cameras looking for lawbreakers, you certainly don’t need as many cops.

      1. We can’t cut police officer jobs in a down economy FdA!

      2. Who is going to administer the daily beatings?

  8. I know I’ve asked this before but seriously this time you guys what the hell does anyone get out of living in Manhattan?

    1. They get to pretend like other people are impressed that they live in Manhattan.

      1. Well I know I’m impressed by people who pay $2500/mo to live in an apartment smaller than my bathroom.

        1. I’m impressed by the people who have $800/month two bedroom places, like a friend of mine. Rent control, you know

        2. Don’t forget the freedom of not having your own car.

    2. Easy access to cannolis?

      1. Leave the pressure-cooker bombs – take the cannoli

    3. Because despite its political class desperately trying to ruin it, Manhattan is kind of freaking sweet.

      I just don’t think it’s sufficient value for the cost of living.

    4. The only good thing is the abundance of hot chicks.

    5. Other than easy access to one of the world’s most fantastic collections of businesses, cuisine, literature, history, and culture high and low? Nothing, I guess. I mean, living in one of the outer boroughs does still get you pretty easy access to all that, but you might have to take one of the more declass? subway lines.

  9. OT, but camera-related:
    “Top model Kylie Bisutti quit as a Victoria’s Secret Angel last year when she realized she was paid to “titillate” men.”
    All along, she thought people were just looking at the fine fabrics!…
    I mean models aren’t known for their SAT scores, but c’mon!

    1. I need to hire her as a brass pole engineer.

      1. You said “pole”…huh huh….huh huh ….. huh huh ….huh huh

    2. And based on her pictures, she’s a woman with fake boobs who doesn’t want to titillate men….

    3. So beautiful and so stupid. I can see the good and bad about that. The conversation won’t be too great. But she is probably easy to entertain.

      1. “But she is probably easy to entertain.”
        Yeah, tell her you appreciate her MIND! (and try to keep from laughing)

        1. I was thinking you could give her a cat toy or something.

          1. John be a man….if she gives you any lip give her a quick one with “the bad girl stick”.

      2. That’s unbelievable.

        ‘Wait, are you telling me that hot girls wearing revealing clothing was meant to titillate men? UGH! I feel so used. I’d give all the money they paid me back if I hadn’t spent it all on cocaine.’

      3. Take a piece of paper. Write “Tunr me over” on it. Turn it over. Write that again. Hand it to her. Is how I used to keep some dates busy for hours.

    4. The 23-year-old born-again Christian

      Well, there you go.

      “I no longer restrict what I eat. I weigh 124 pounds right now, but my ideal weight is 125. I want young girls to see me at a healthy size.”

      Then go drink a couple of glasses of water. Sheesh.

      1. Then she’d be overweight.

  10. There are already enough cell phones with cameras around taking pictures of all the stupid things people do.

  11. Conspiracy food: From the FBI’s Youtube channel, 4/30/11.

    The scenario sounds familiar, don’t it?

    1. The FBI has a Youtube channel? What the fuck…

      1. G-Men gotta fap to something!

    2. Tax dollars paid for that blue screen.

  12. In other news:

    “Reason commenter experiences awkward moment when his mother proudly related to him that she received a Dutch Oven from her husband for her birthday.”

    Laugh away.

    1. Some people enjoy the pleasant odors that waft up from a Dutch Oven.

    2. Now you know what you can get her for that birthday — new sheets.

      1. the higher the threadcount, the more intense the dutch oven effect

  13. No sympathy. Anyone who chooses to live under Lord Bloombird deserves what he gets.

  14. 67 comments and no references to SCORPION STARE?

    Well, I had the guts to go there.

  15. OT: Being from Coastal SC, I will have to disown my homeland if Mark Sanford loses. As a rule of thumb, never support a candidate like Elizabeth Busch who has been endorsed by the Longshoremen Unions.

    Also, fuck the fat SoCon women who are just like Jezzies when it comes to “UHHHHH….MEN!”

    1. Also, fuck the fat SoCon women who are just like Jezzies when it comes to “UHHHHH….MEN!”

      I’m pretty sure the commonality between these Socon women and Jezzies is the ‘fat’ part.

      1. I have no problem with SoCon women that vote on policy, not a man’s personal life. What is even more aggravating is that South Carolina went overwhelmingly for a SERIAL adulterer, Newt Gingrich, but hate Sanford….who actually is a great principled, fiscal conservative.

    2. Being from Coastal SC, I will have to disown my homeland if Mark Sanford loses.

      One would have thought you’d already disown it for electing Graham. What an asshole. Saw him on FOX today blathering on about how we should declare a US citizen an enemy combatant, and how we need to kill more brown people in Syria.

      Atone for the choices of your state!


    Like rats scurrying from a torch light. Exemptions? US? We never asked for an exemption. Sure you didn’t.

    1. My hand? In the cookie jar?! Impossible!!

      1. Pau no attention to the ceramic shards embedded around my wrist, nor the crumbs on my tie. My hand won’t even fit through the neck of the cookie jar with anything in it!

  17. Bloomie and his bitch seemed so happy when they publicized the idea that Times Square was mentioned by the Boston bombers.

    1. Not the crazed street preachers! Their deranged ramblings were the only thing of note from that cesspit city.

    2. It has to be galling to have someone attack someplace OTHER than NY. Don’t these terrorists know who they are!?

      You know Bloomberg would’ve ratcheted up surveillance on NY whether or not it was mentioned because that’s what Bloomberg does, but this’ll at least make it easier.

      1. I don’t mind arrogance but bragging about being a pussified police state is a little too much.

        1. It’s also really hurting New York. The people who currently live there might not notice, but why would anyone not currently living in New York ever want to move there?

          This is why southern and south-western states are growing rapidly and New York and California are not. People who don’t already live there simply don’t want to put up with that bullshit.

    1. Cloning?

    2. What, do you guys not keep locks of Wayne Gretzky’s hair in Canada?

      1. Why wouldn’t they? He’s the most well-loved Emperor of Canada they ever had.

    3. A lock of hair belonging to the Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Joseph has been auctioned in Vienna for 13,720 euros (?11,500) – more than 20 times its estimated value.

      The lock, which belonged to the estate of the Emperor’s valet, Eugen Ketterl, had been valued at about 450 euros.

      Franz Joseph ruled from 1848 to 1916 and was one of Europe’s longest reigning monarchs.

      In 2011, a lock of Justin Bieber’s hair sold for ?25,024 on Ebay.

      Says so much about our civilization.

  18. Komputer Kindergarten.

    Has anything really changed?

  19. uhm can’t post?

    1. Refresh the page.

      1. my reply options are randomly available.

        1. Mine too.

  20. Now comes nipple tattooing, otherwise known as ‘tittooing‘, the latest beauty craze for women.

    1. I said it before, some women are morons.

  21. “Libertarians can say all they like that their system is moral, but they can’t argue that it will result in the Republican Party winning elections.”

    We can easily argue that you’re a horses ass.

  22. You know who else used to be a neo-nazi?

    1. Merkin? Oh wait, “USED to be”.

      1. No, it works for American too. He used to be a neo-Nazi, but they made him shave his head, which got in the way of his Alpha peacocking.

        Now he’s in the KKK, since they let him accessorize the robe.

        1. Can this please be KKKanon?

          1. It can be Amerikkkanon.

            That’s like three puns sandwiched together so tightly that American would call those puns whores and try to terrorize them into submission.

            1. And of course it would work because women just love to be traitorous for dominant men.

    2. I’m not sure what’s more offensive: That someone was a neo-nazi or that Ace of Base was ever played on the radio.

    1. Saskatoon, eh?

      1. The Paris of the Prairies.

  23. All Jon Steward proves here is that Fox News is full of fucktards

    1. And yet Fox employs Judge Napolitano, go figure.

      1. And Stossel and Greg Gutfeld. Stossel’s a libertarian and Gutfeld is libertarianish.

        Fox News is atrocious, but not as bad as CNN or MSNBC.

        1. I enjoy Stossel’s show. Half the time it’s just like reading Most of the contributors from this site are on there at some point, especially Matt Welch, and Kennedy is on pretty much every episode. All that’s missing is the comment section.

          1. Stossel has great guests and I like that he lets the guest do most of the talking.

            I was at a taping in February and enjoyed it. He really doesn’t like to get into the details about libertarian moral philosophy, instead he just likes to point out how government sucks and screws things u;

  24. Crime and Punishment theater, but all the energy is for the after-the-fact exposition and the completely private ‘non-camera’ cognitive dissonance, previous-to-event observations are the new heresy. Sherlock wouldn’t need two pipes to see the proof is is in shock and awe demos on double overtime shifts. Protected to death from nature’s gift of individuality? you b’tcha.

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