For the past ten years the city of Lynwood, Calif. has struggled to fight gang violence and prostitution. It wasn’t having much success, however, and started looking for a new way to clean up its streets. Then in 2008, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, Century Station, decided to run a trial of street security cameras to find out if they would help deter or catch criminals. And it wasn’t too long before the cameras proved successful.
The trial video cameras had successfully captured an incident between two rival gangs that would most likely have escalated into violence. Fortunately for everyone, this footage was seen in time and officers were able to intervene and neutralize what would have turned into a potentially disastrous situation.
Seeing as the cameras proved to be a success in the short time of the trial run, the department decided to expand the cameras along Long Beach Blvd., which was Lynwood’s busiest street. It was also known as one of the most crime-ridden areas and had a serious prostitution problem, one that could easily be curbed by the surveillance program. By 2009, the installation of the security cameras was finally complete and most of the city’s high crime areas were all being monitored for criminal behavior.
“I don’t like to name other cities, but I can tell you that Lynwood crime statistics are significantly lower,” said Captain James Hellmold of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. “Whereas in the past, Lynwood used to be thought of as a dangerous and violent area, it’s now been turned around and businesses are seeking to invest in the area.”
The sheriff’s department has also said that thanks to the newly installed security cameras the city’s homicide rate was at an all time low since 1985.
To add even more credibility to surveillance cameras in crime prevention, the sheriff’s department has multiple reports and interviews with criminals that admit that the cameras are the top reason that the city is the place to avoid if they are looking to commit crime:
Thanks to this technology, Lynwood went from being labeled “crime ridden” all the way to receiving the All-America City Award for its dedication, inclusiveness, and innovation in overcoming the challenge of high crime levels. Hopefully other neighborhoods, towns, and cities take notice and decide to experiment with surveillance cameras to make their citizens’ lives safer.