The opening scene in the Bourne Supremacy follows Jason Bourne and a journalist through a deadly game of cat-and-mouse, with a CIA sniper positioned to take orders from the men and women in the control room sitting in front of a bank of CCTV camera footage. At every turn, Jason Bourne instructs the hapless journalist where to move, when to stand still, and how to hide from the eyes in the sky. Unfortunately, panic overrides the poor sap’s trust in Bourne and he steps into the sightline of one of the cameras and seconds later, the sniper’s bullet ends his life.
Intense, right? That is exactly how I imagined the life of the police officers who specialize in identifying crime suspects through CCTV footage in cities all over the world. As a team, they hone in on illegal activity and dispatch armies of police cruisers to rescue victims and arrest the bad guys. Of course, there’s no sniper. But that’s because we live in a world that believes in law and order, due process, and innocent until proven guilty.
It was with innocent curiosity that bordered the desire to live vicariously that I invited researcher and seasoned crime analyst from the Newark Police Department, now Associate Professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Eric Piza onto the Command Post. His research into the effectiveness of the use of CCTV cameras revealed some shocking information about the cost involved in installing the cameras, the shortage of personnel in the control room, and the incredibly high number of cameras that go un-monitored. In short, real life is nothing like Hollywood makes it out to be. Of course, that’s the whole point of the movies isn’t it?
Find out exactly what prompted Dr. Eric Piza to study CCTV effectiveness, how he and the Newark Police Department built a partnership focused on evidence-based practices, and what the results reveal about opportunities to use CCTVs and their associated personnel more effectively and efficiently. Click play for all this, and more!