When Big Brother ISN'T Watching

Stephen Chernin

One of the arguments that anti-gunners will occasionally trot out is that we don’t need to carry a gun to protect ourselves because the government is here to protect us. Sure, there may not be a cop on every street corner, but advances in technology still allow local governments to keep watch over us. From ShotSpotter microphones that can pick up the sound of gunfire and alert police to the location of shootings to surveillance cameras that serve as an unblinking eye trained on high-crime locations, there’s a security net that blankets most big cities (and even some small towns) and negates the need for us to protect ourselves.


That argument has never really resonated with me, in large part because while those technologies may help law enforcement respond to a crime, they don’t really do much to stop criminal acts from taking place. And as residents of Cleveland have learned, even when Big Brother says he’s watching, the truth is that he’s often blind to what’s actually happening.

The FOX 8 I-Team has found another case of Cleveland security cameras not working and not capturing evidence for police.

We’ve exposed this problem before.

In the latest case, a man with a gun robbed a store at West 140th and Puritas in Cleveland. Then, he took off.

A recording of Cleveland police dispatch chatter shows the city’s real time crime security cameras were down in the area near that crime scene.

In recent years, we’ve shown you cases of city cameras down and not capturing evidence after serious crimes.

After the latest case, an officer called out, “do you have any description on the vehicle?”

“That’s a negative. Nothing on the vehicle,” dispatch responded.

“Is real time working? Were they able to capture the vehicle?” an officer later asked.

“Real time responded back. They stated both of the cameras nearby were down. They were unable to get any vehicle information,” dispatch responded.


According to FOX Cleveland, no one with the Cleveland police or at City Hall has offered any details about why these cameras were offline, or even how many cameras are down at any given time. The last time the news outlet reported on a similar incident, city officials said only a “small percentage” of the surveillance system is typically offline, but that’s so vague it’s really a non-answer.

While the city is reluctant to give out any details about downtime within the system, officials have been more than happy to show off the Real Time Crime Center and tout its ability to “collect data and communicate with dispatch and officers in the field.” I guess we’re supposed to ooh and ahh over the technology deployed in the name of public safety, but we’re not allowed to know even the basic details of just how effectively this system is operating on a daily basis.

I’m not saying there’s no benefit to a system like this, but it certainly doesn’t negate the need for individuals to be able to protect themselves. At best, the cameras might help police spot a suspect after a crime has been committed, but they aren’t going to stop an armed robbery, carjacking, or home invasion. Even when Big Brother’s watching, We the People still have the right and the need to protect ourselves.


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