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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

In the small, posh town of Tiburon, located near San Francisco, has plans to install an "electronic border gate." Due to its geographic location, only two roads provide entry/exit points to the relatively small town of 8,800 residents. The police want to install cameras with character recognition software to immediately notify police if a license plate matches a database entry.

"If someone burglarized a Tiburon home at 3 a.m. one morning, [Police Chief Michael Cronin] said, detectives could consult the devices and find out who came to town in the hours before - and who rolled out soon after." This makes anyone unfortunate enough to make a quick stop in the town a suspect and encourages criminals to stay in-town longer. I'm sure that is exactly what these residents want.

But then again, I wouldn't put it past these residents. "Cronin called it a sound investment. He pointed to a frustrating twist in Tiburon crime: Residents feel so safe that they don't lock their cars and homes." According to Cronin, "It's much more efficient than having an officer sit on the boulevard, watch passing cars and guess who might be a burglar." (i.e. profiling)

Let's process this information. The police blame the crime problem in the town to residents feeling too safe. Therefore, they must install privacy-invading cameras that record data on all vehicles entering and exiting the town in order to make the residents feel safer.

This also poses the very real risk that this will become nothing more than a high-tech traffic checkpoint. A recent DUI checkpoint in Florida failed to find a single DUI, but the police took the following actions with the 1,131 unnecessarily delayed vehicles:

--Two arrested on outstanding warrants.

-- Seven arrested on felony charges, including six on drug-related charges.

-- One arrested for misdemeanor drugs.

-- 104 traffic citations issued.

-- 10 faulty equipment warnings were issued.

-- 10 warnings were issued.

"But if that justifies having a checkpoint to check every single vehicle and driver, ostensibly for DUIs, doesn't it also justify just having random checks for no reason at all?"

Posted by Eleutherian

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