Has Chicago's CCTV System Helped Lower Crime Rates?
It’s been 19 years since the Chicago Police Department (CPD) kicked off its pilot of Police Observation Devices (PODs). Today, there’s a network of 50,000+ surveillance cameras in use all over the city.
But Are They Working?
This simple question has no simple answer.
According to the Chicago Police Department, in some areas, narcotic related crimes dropped by 76%. However, a recent article in the Chicago Sun Times states that Chicago neighborhoods saw one of the most dangerous years ever in 2021.
These findings track with a 2006 finding by the U.S Department of Justice that video surveillance is only effective at preventing certain types of crime, such as deterring property crimes like theft and vandalism, but not violent crimes.
Additionally, a 2008 study conducted by the city of San Francisco and the University of California at Berkeley concluded that while crimes decreased within 250 meters of “open street” surveillance cameras, they increased beyond 250 meters. They found that CCTVs were effective in small, contained areas like parking garages, but weak deterrents in open spaces.
However, a New York Times Article from 2018 details that in some neighborhoods with higher crime rates, such as Englewood, they saw crime rates drop 52% compared to the year before. The article quotes Chicago's police superintendent, Eddie T. Johnson, in saying, "The idea [behind CCTV] is to put the technology in the hands of the officer," which they have done by adding surveillance centers to 13 of the 22 police stations around the city.
A recent study by the Rand Corporation concludes that CCTV can be an effective tool but should not be considered a total solution. The CPD's POD system is most effective when used in conjunction with other tools such as predictive analytics and public outreach programs.
What Does This Data Mean?
While crime rates in Chicago have gotten better since the introduction of the city's large CCTV surveillance system, Chicago still recorded more homicides than both New York and Los Angeles combined in 2016. The Chicago Police Department is continuously improving its CCTV network, but whether it's residential or commercial, having a CCTV system installed with security monitoring services will provide even more peace of mind.
CCTV should be a tool in your home-security arsenal, but not your entire home security solution. The trained professionals at FSS Technologies can help you determine the best security system for your home and family, and ensure the system is installed correctly and serviced regularly.