Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Will the Charlottesville Downtown Mall get more security cameras?

I am surprised that the Charlottesville downtown business owners are contemplating installing "vast network of security cameras" to keep their customers safe. The Daily Progress ran a Brandon Shulleeta story under the headline "Security cameras for Downtown Mall?" on February 11, 2011 reporting that a group of downtown business owners are hoping to install these cameras in the next few months.

I think of the Downtown Mall as a very safe area to be and don't hesitate to go there just about any time of day or night. I know there are cameras on the mall, but have no idea how many. And in the Shulleeta article, Bob Stroh is quoted saying "I would challenge a customer or anybody who is going out to shop or eat or use any sort of services to find a place where he’s not on camera. I can guarantee you Fashion Square has endless number of cameras, Barracks Road Shopping Center has endless number of cameras — any place you go. If you’re in public, you’re on camera. … To not do that is to open up yourself to liability. You have to provide a safe place to shop and provide services." But if that is the case, what good will additional cameras do? And if the cost of adding this network of cameras is going to be expensive, I would expect that shoppers will be paying more for items on the mall to cover those costs.

Perhaps the downtown business owners will tell us how many so-called security cameras are currently operating on the mall and let us know if in fact we are already on camera throughout the public areas on the mall. Not only am I interested in knowing how the images recorded on the proposed cameras will be used, but I am now curious about how the images of the currently installed cameras are being used.

Any chance the business owners will share this information with us? I asked Bob Stroh if he know how many cameras are on the mall now and he said to me that he didn't know. Perhaps we have to ask each business and property owner individually to even have a chance of knowing what the camera coverage on the mall is now or might be in the near future.

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