How would you behave if you knew someone was watching?
What would you avoid doing? Probably a lot.
That’s the thinking behind the Fort Worth Police Department’s installation of close to 200 surveillance cameras throughout the city — that when people are being watched in real time, they are far less likely to do something they wouldn’t want someone to witness, like committing a crime.
“We knew that we needed more than human eyes on crime,” said Fort Worth City Councilwoman Gyna Bivens, who was instrumental in persuading the city to install 35 new surveillance cameras in the East Side Stop Six neighborhood where crime has been a significant problem for years.
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Eventually, a total of 60 cameras will be keeping eyes on the area, all part of the $2.56 million year-long revitalization of Stop Six and Caville Place.
In Stop Six and other parts of the city where violent crime is a terrible but undeniable part of life, the cameras are expected to help deter criminals and improve community safety.
The residents couldn’t be happier.
Bivens said she has yet to encounter someone who is taking issue with the perpetual surveillance.
For those uneasy with the “Big Brother” feel of police-controlled cameras, the FWPD has assured residents that the cameras are monitored by a small, select group of officers.
And given the experience of other cities, the benefits appear to outweigh the costs.
Indeed, a citywide system of security cameras is not a new concept, but according to Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald, it’s an effective one. “My entire city in Allentown (Pa.) was wired up the same way, and we had a tremendous amount of success solving a lot of violent crimes, deterring crimes,” Fitzgerald told the Star-Telegram’s Jeff Caplan earlier this year.
That’s what Fort Worthians living in high crime areas are counting on.
For the residents of Stop Six, the cameras are more than a beacon of hope for their beleaguered neighborhood, they are a reminder that the City Council is listening.
When community leaders, like Bivens, and residents are engaged in solving local problems, solutions are possible.