Springfield, Massachusetts is the most unsafe city in the Bay State, and ranked as one of the most dangerous cities in the United States. The city that was once the home of Dr. Seuss certainly does not reflect the idealistic writings of the celebrated children’s author these days. Or is Seuss out of vogue now?
Recently a man was caught on video running through the streets of Springfield with a firearm. While the firearm appeared to be unloaded, as the slide was locked back, there is footage showing the man’s trek through a neighborhood. From the report:
The Springfield Police Department released city camera footage showing an incident involving an armed suspect pointing a gun at officers Sunday night. According to Springfield Police Spokesperson Ryan Walsh, police received a ShotSpotter activation report for five rounds of gunshots on High Street around 7:25 p.m. Sunday night. A nearby city camera was able to capture the moments after shots were fired, showing the suspect, 43-year-old Jose Montanez of Springfield, running around the street with a gun in his hand, pointing it at officers. Crime analysts were able to watch in real-time this city camera and assist officers at the incident.
As officers arrived, Montanez ran down the street but continued to turn around and point a gun at officers. Walsh said officers were able to detect the gun’s slide was locked in the rear, indicating the gun was out of ammunition…
The video is impressive for may reasons. Linked here to be viewed:
The ShotSpotter system has been under fire as being ineffectual and subject to litigation. Be that as it may, the system detected gunfire, and as can be viewed in the video, there was in fact a man running through the streets with a gun. Albeit unloaded, but a gun none-the-less.
If this were something out of a movie, there could be an element of humor to it. Watching the man trot, run, skip, dance? through the streets. The issue that is most prevalent, aside from the fact that Springfield, Massachusetts is so dangerous they “need” a system like this in place, is the extreme quality of the video. If you have not watched it, give it a gander again, but this time take note of how far the man ran, the detail of the video, as well as how far the camera was able to zoom in. It’s important to note the article indicated the camera footage was from a “nearby city camera”.
Besides the legal baggage, there’s also a philosophical controversy over ShotSpotter. As the system rolled out in different cities throughout the nation, privacy concerns popped up. Well, if you’re worried about your privacy and Fourth Amendment rights, the footage will chill you.
The argument for community safety always surfaces whenever new policing tactics are being employed. There are proponents and those against things such as dash and body cams for police officers. They are good evidence gathering devices and help tell portions of the story surrounding an event. But this system just can do far too much far too well for my comfort. I’m sure there are “safeguards” in place and all kinds of “barriers” that limit the ability of the police to use such a system. As if we’ve never heard of any safeguards failing and or abuse of powers that people have. Because that’s exactly what this is, power. Springfield, Massachusetts has city cameras that could essentially zoom right into someone’s window, without them knowing it, and see fill-in-the-blank. I’m not suggesting they “do” that, I’m suggesting it’s possible. Well, you decide based on how well the camera performed.
As technology continues to develop, more and more things will come to market to make policing “easier”. At least that’s what we’re going to be told. The real root of all this discourse in the first place is much older than the technology that recorded the man with a gun, evil. Mayor Sarno of Springfield was quoted in the News 22 WWLP piece and had the following to say:
“After reviewing this most chilling video, these officers showed tremendous restraint in not firing their weapons in this foot chase to subdue this violent offender, who was firing off his gun and pointing at officer’s numerous times. Those officers and residents were put in harm’s way and a very traumatic situation – they could have been injured or God forbid killed. Is this what it is coming to? Our courts are holding no one accountable, especially repeat violent criminal offenders who are allowed to run roughshod on our streets and neighborhoods, while our brave and dedicated men and women in blue risk their lives with arrest after arrest after arrest to keep all our residents and business community safe. Now the big question – will our courts hold him or just ‘pat him on the head’ and release him right back to our streets and in our neighborhoods!”
Mayor Sarno hits the nail on the head, “Our courts are holding no one accountable”, and because of that we have them to thank for such violations to our privacy. We’ll have to see if the court steps up to the plate and swings or slaps the man on the wrist.
How many of these “city cameras” do you think there are in the United States?
Author’s Note: Since publication a number of commenters on social media and on this page have noted that just because the slide of a firearm is locked back, does not mean it’s unloaded. This is a correct statement. Please note the statement in the article is based off the responding officer’s claims on the situation. I take firearm safety very seriously, and we are to treat all firearms as if they are loaded at all times. Stay safe out there!