We’re currently watching a Netflix series about a London police inspector who hears the voices of dead people. Maybe. They just might be his own voices that he thinks are the dead people in the mystery he is attempting to solve. He’s not sure. We’re not sure. He may just be a nutter but he seems to be a good investigator. Or is he?
All the plots move along (without useful input from the voices) but they all seem to move along because someone goes over the CCTV footage once again for the umpteenth time and sees something no one else saw before. CCTV footage is the new ‘crutch’ on which mystery plots revolve. But (BIG but) it requires a person to go over and over and over again all the footage.
I am sure that is true. I am sure they do that. I believe what the State tells me. It’s all reviewed all the time just to keep me safe.
But, honestly, that was NOT our experience.
A couple of years ago our car was broken into at the hotel we were staying at and all the Xmas presents we had purchased were stolen. ICBC no longer covers break-ins explained the dial-a-claim person because, “Well, there are so many of them now, aren’t there?” Makes sense, actually. Insure for that which DOES NOT happen but, if it does, cancel that insurance because how are you gonna make a buck doing that? Not surprisingly, ICBC made no effort to tell us that our coverage had changed.
So, we lost about $1000-1200 dollars and, when we mentioned it to the hotel, they said, “Well, we have security but we never catch anyone.”
“What is your security?”
“Anyone actually go outside and check it out? Patrol the lot or something?”
“No. Just the cameras.”
“Interesting approach. Anyone watch the cameras?”
“No. But we record. So we have tapes.”
“But no one looks at them?”
“Not unless someone asks.”
“Can I see them?”
” I will have to get permission from my supervisor. Privacy concerns.”
“Of course. And not to mention, liability issues and safety and security issues. You might want to record our conversation and I can bring a record check in with me sometime next week.”
“Never mind. Just ask.”
When we looked at the cameras, it was incredible. There were twelve cameras at least ten of them with our car within their recording view. For three of them , it was like Hollywood had staged our car to be the story subject. We saw the two guys come from the street, we saw them look around, we saw them with hoodies and we saw them break in and steal our stuff. Elapsed time….maybe ten to fifteen minutes. The smash and grab? Maybe one minute. If we hadn’t asked to see the tapes, no one would have ever seen them and yet, there they were in black and white. Evidence.
Even tho we had seen the tapes the guys wore hoodies and the camera action was a bit jumpy, not film-like. So it was NOT good evidence. No one could tell anything from that other than they were likely young, male and thin. I suppose we could have watched the tapes a gazillion times and eventually found enough evidence to trace their family tree and who their friends were. But I doubt it. That only happens on Netflix.
I think CCTV serves up the average citizen for 100% monitoring and controlling (driving, workplace, etc). It is likely a revenue stream – bridge tolls, speeding tickets, etc. But, for fighting crime, it is useless. False sense of security at best. For our successful thieves, 12 cameras trained on them meant nothing. To be even more cynical, I believe the cameras are there just to comply with the hotel’s insurance company’s requirements for reasons other than the well-being of the patrons.
The police informed us that the thieves like hotels like ours because it was located close to the Skytrain, People on Skytrain with shopping bags are NOT suspicious but men-in-hoodies walking down a street with packages are. They knew our hotel had been hit repeatedly. NOT that they did anything about it, of course. It was just part of the urban bargain now.
My point: there is less security in the city now that there is more. Don’t ask me why exactly that is so but it is clearly true – the more police and the more CCTV, the more crime and the more of it goes unsolved.
Part of that has to be the lack of human involvement. We delegate to cameras and computers, we swap digitized information without having to actually handle it, see it, feel it and find a place for it. We have made a world of recordings, images and pdfs. In effect it is a kind of vacuum. It is a vacuum of consciousness, awareness, caring, feeling and, naturally enough, the empathy that goes with that. With that CCTV world, no one cares.
Scott Peck (The Road Less Traveled) wrote in another book, People of the Lie, that evil steps in to fill conscious voids. A lot of bad stuff happens when people are drunk, drugged or NOT thinking and so some of that bad stuff is just plain evil filling up the vacuum. I suggest that a lot of evil steps in when we trust to computers, too.
So…if we consciously turn our brains off, if we consciously choose to be unconscious and let the cameras and recordings do it all for us, if we purposefully go UNconscious about our lives, Peck postulates we invite harm. I agree.