Two Examples of How CCTV Cameras Nationwide Not Only Deter Crimes But Also Solve Them

Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) is used in a vast majority of public spaces to deter crimes. With security cameras sprouting out of every building, park, traffic intersection, or public space, we have seen a dip in crimes while the cameras are rolling. Security cameras are on almost every street acting as an extra set of eyes and ears for when you are not home.

There are an estimated 50 million security cameras installed in the US alone. Major cities like Chicago have about 10,000 while New York has about 18,000. Many modern surveillance camera systems have advanced features such as turning towards a sound such as a gunshot and the ability to recognize faces and objects. There have been multiple cases where criminals have been apprehended as a direct result of surveillance cameras.

Today, there are two cases that come to mind: The Boston Marathon Bombing and the Abduction of Carlesha Freeland-Gaither. Let’s look at these two cases below to see how security footage helped solve the case.

Case 1: The Boston Marathon Bombing

With a history of over 120 years, the Boston Marathon was held in April 2013 with about 30,000+ entrants. Police were able to capture Dzhokhar Tsarvnaev in a televised manhunt, second to that of OJ Simpson’s, with the help of CCTV. Even as first responders entered the heinous scene, officers were already securing video surveillance footage from the vast networks in downtown Boston. Video footage can hold more evidence than eyewitness accounts and DNA can. After police department analysts combed through hours of video footage collected from spectators and surveillance cameras, it was the camera mounted on Boylston Street’s Lord & Taylor that proved most valuable; the suspects’ pictures were released to the media to aid in their capture. In the wake of 9/11, more protocols have been put into place allowing the ability to share information. The Boston Marathon bombings’ ability to apprehend the suspects was a direct result of the United States Homeland Security’s preparedness.

Monday April 15, 2013 – At 2:46 pm with 12 seconds in between, two bombs went off near the Boston Marathon finish line; 264 people were injured while three perished.

Tuesday April 16, 2013 – After the race was suspended rumors were running rampant around the Boston area about the suspects being captured on surveillance cameras of nearby homes, businesses, and cell phone footage.

Thursday April 18, 2013 – Surveillance videos released by the FBI show two suspects: one in a white cap and one in a black cap pleading for the public to aid in their identification.

Friday April 19, 2013 – After a carjacking, officers locate the two suspects in a Boston suburb. More than 9,000 Police Officers were armed for a hostile situation. After a shootout, one suspect, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was killed. His brother who was armed and dangerous fled. After hours of searching with an hour-long standoff, the younger Tsarnaev was captured and sentenced to death by lethal injection.

Case 2: The Abduction of Carlesha Freeland-Gaither

22-year-old nursing aid, Carlesha Freeland-Gaither, was violently snatched off the streets of Philadelphia in 2014. As seen on street surveillance footage, a man approaches Carlesha, hits her over the head, and drags her the length of a block to his waiting car.

November 2, 2014 – Carlesha Freeland-Gaither is abducted walking along a Philadelphia street after a long struggle with her attacker.

November 3, 2014 – Miles away in Maryland, the victim’s bank card was used at a machine whose surveillance video captured a dark, but grainy, picture of a man.  Minutes later, the suspect purchases a few items at a nearby gas station. The receipt produced from this transaction was later discovered scattered in the driveway of a Grace, Maryland with other belongings; police were informed.

November 4, 2014 – Video surveillance footage from the street and gas station are reviewed showing a man matching the description at the bank machine where the victim’s card was used confirming it’s the same person. More surveillance photos were examined and released to the public later sparking the interest of the Virginia police department 300 miles away. In an attempt to find the offender in the abduction, rape, and torture, a 16-year-old, saw the video and contacted Philadelphia authorities.  Due to similarities in these cases when the footage was obtained of Carlesha’s abduction and shown to Barne’s father, he told authorities that his son, Delvin Barnes, drives a gray Ford Taurus and is similar to the one seen in surveillance footage.

November 5, 2014 – The Ford Taurus was captured on traffic cameras in Jessup, Maryland, leading investigators to Barnes who had Carlesha captive in his back seat.

Law enforcement are able to review security camera footage to verify whether a suspect was in a specific area at a specific time as well as identify the direction they are traveling. This helps law enforcement as they do not need to operate solely on guesswork and can corroborate their theories to ensure no misinterpretation. Police departments nationwide, no matter how big or small, should evaluate and analyze video evidence just as they do with other forensic evidence.

Here are four ways security cameras can deter crime:

  1. Surveillance cameras should be placed in a public space to ensure public safety in high crime areas as well as to decrease the threat of vandalism.
  2. Surveillance cameras can be accessed by police departments to identify criminals and solve the cases quicker with this material evidence.
  3. Criminals are less likely to engage in negative activities or commit crimes in areas that promote the protection of security cameras.
  4. With crime prevention the new features of surveillance cameras such as the ability to zoom and reveal someone’s identity is beneficial in abduction cases as well as terrorist activity.

Police departments across the Country are asking more and more residents to register their security cameras, including video doorbell cameras, with law enforcement to aid in the solving of crimes. With cameras registered, it can help lead to the capture of vandals, thieves, and even juvenile-related crimes.