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Original post made
on Oct 30, 2011
While good news, this matter raises some troubling questions. Given that most of the "secrets" of police work are revealed every week on some "cop show", or "CSI somewhere", it would be nice to know how this fellow's identify became known. Was it the old fashioned way, where his girl friend, or mother, tipped off the cops in hope of getting him a little "time in the pokey" so that he could think about "changing his ways", or was it through the use of surveillance camera video feeds?
In this day and age, with the Internet just about everywhere, and the cost of "beat police" pushing $200K a pop, the idea of using surveillance photography, and digital facial recognition software, seems both compelling, and necessary. In the past, the more-backward-than-most Palo Alto Police (primarily under Chief Lynn Johnson, but now under Chief Dennis Burns) have shown great reluctance to downright hostility to the idea of using digital technology to provide the police investigating street crimes as many tools as are available.
The failure to deploy these technologies puts everyone at risk who use the downtown area for working, shopping, and recreating. We, as the residents of this postage-stamp town that has a higher than normal rate of property crime, are being denied the services of highly paid police officers, who are not able to do the best job that they can, because their hands are being tied behind themselves by the decision makers at City Hall.
Since the Weekly article did not raise the question of how this fellow's identity became known to the Palo Alto Police, we may never know exactly what the sequence-of-events was that led to his being identified. Hopefully one of the other papers will push the envelope a little, and ask the Police the hard questions the Weekly never does.
At any rate, it's time that the use of surveillance/digital technology being used becomes a matter for the City Council to be aware of, and have to weigh in on the issues, rather than standing by the side lines hoping that the "game ends" before they have to actually get on the field and "run with the ball".
Why do they call her a "man"?
It's not always clear what the gender is. In today's day and age, photos can be deceptive as short hair isn't always an indicator of a man. Plus some folks such as transgenders undergo gender changes, so there's no telling exactly.
Good. Now if the Palo Alto Police can stay out of Oakland, and deploy their resources here, on Palo Alto streets, street crime like this can be abated.
Seems to me that plenty of street crime takes place with or without our officers being in Oakland. Who's to say that any of the officers sent to Oakland would have been working the night this robbery took place. From what I have gathered, the police department operates under minimum staffing, as few as six officers covering the overnight shift. Their ranks have been reduced by 15-20% over the past several years due to budget cuts. The efforts to abate street crime in PA has everything to do with the city imposed reduction of police personnel, and nothing to do with sending a group of officer to Oakland for one night.
Additionally, the police department's investigative efforts didn't appear to be hampered in their ability to identify the robber. Let's take a little time to recognize that fact.
> the police department's investigative efforts
> didn't appear to be hampered in their ability to identify
> the robber. Let's take a little time to recognize that fact.
Not necessarily so. There is no information in the article as to how the police actually identified this alleged robber. If someone close to the "perp" turned him in, that hardly speaks to the investigative skills of the PA Police.
> street crime like this can be abated.
> the police department operates under minimum staffing,
> as few as six officers covering the overnight shift.
This is true, but so what? Having a large police force does not speak well of a city, or its residents. Moreover, with police officers now costing over $185,000/head (with future post-retirement costs of pensions and healthcare unknown), it would pay to be constantly rethinking the role, and function, of the police.
As noted in the first posting, using digital technology to increase the "reach" of the on-duty police needs serious attention. Surveillance technology that can help the police identify people through facial recognition software is a primary example of a tool that would help to abate street crime.
A regional effort between several police departments might see small drones overflying several contiguous areas at night. Automatic license plate readers would allow police officers to identify stolen cars that are parked on the street, or moving in traffic, without having to contact a central database.
Using private patrols at night to reduce the need for high-cost, sworn officers, to drive about in the neighborhoods would both reduce costs, and increase the "police presence" about the city.
Every city in the US needs to be rethinking its role, function, and cost. There is no reason not to believe that reducing the cost of every function of government by 30% is not possible, over the next ten years.
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