Friday, February 20, 2009

Caught on camera

The rapid proliferation of video recording systems has certainly changed criminal investigations. As I have noted before, we’re all being caught on camera several times daily as we go about our normal business. From the investigative standpoint, this has opened up a rich vein of information that can be effectively mined to help solve crime. I’ve blogged about such cases in the past.

Wednesday’s arrest of a suspect in a startling daytime sexual assault of a 14 year old victim near one of the busiest intersections in Lincoln is another case in point. The victim reported that the suspect walked towards a nearby convenience store after the assault. Follow-up work by investigators turned up some very good video from the store showing a subject who matched the description of the suspect provided by the victim.

Still shots were released to the news media the same day we received the video, and were seen by a few hundred thousand viewers on the Tuesday evening newscasts and Wednesday morning paper. Tips started coming in thereafter. Investigator Mayde McGuire showed the image around in a neighborhood canvass where one Crimestoppers caller reported having seen the suspect, and during that canvas, he was positively identified. Officer McGuire found him walking in the same vicinity, and the arrest was made.

The chances of clearing this case without the video would have been considerably less. Say what you may about the loss of privacy (have I mentioned that it might be wise to refrain from adjusting your underwear on on elevator anymore?), these camera systems are a boon to investigators, and a bane to criminals.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

I bet we see an increase in cameras around houses. High definition video cameras may become standard security because people seem to love technology.

Anonymous said...

Maybe we should install cameras in the LPD lots

Anonymous said...

Are there plans in the works to install security cameras at substations? I saw in the news that some police cruiser tires were vandalized at one of these stations. Seems like cameras would be a deterent or could provide some good evidence.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad he was caught. It's frightening to think someone would do such a thing in broad daylight then head to the convenience store as if just running errands.

Anonymous said...

Was that transient fairly new to the area? I didn't see any hits in the county attorney search or the NE inmate locator, but I couldn't believe that anyone who would do that would not have any previous record.

Tom Casady said...

7:54 / 7:56 -

Yes. The Building Commission already has them at HQ; would be nice at our subs. Matter of money.

9:58 -

Yes, he hasn't been here very long.

Anonymous said...

I didn't think so. My skeptical nature tells me that he'll get pled down from 1D to 2D sexual assault. That's a Class III, 1-20 years, so then he'll be back out in six months on parole. In 10 years, every member of the Center and SW teams will know him by sight, because they'll have busted him so often, only to have him get wrist-slapped by the prosecutors, the courts, and the parole board.

JIM J said...

February 20, 2009 9:26 AM
Most of the perps hang out in all hours of the day, hence the surprise that it was in the day time. What is so surprisiing about the convenience store? Most people that do this do not run to the adult book store.

Anonymous said...

AGGGGHHHH! Not another one! If that spiky-haired infomercial woman were here, she might scream at vehicle owners to stop the insanity.

Steve said...

We can only hope the man who went on the "crime spree" was caught on video somewhere during the chase. The LJS article has everyone wondering where the police were during all of this. I'm sure there's more to the story. Right Chief?

Anonymous said...

Speaking of money for projects such as cameras for sub stations, in the new stimulus package there are several items listed for Lincoln under public safety. You can view the list at http://www.stimuluswatch.org/project/by_state/NE
Of note it listed 9 new officer positions. Are those going to be on the Lincoln Police Department? Also noted were, patrol car video systems, forensic lab improvement, ballistic improvement project, crime scene investigation mobile unit, and GPS locators for patrol cars. A total of $2,185,000 appeared marked towards law enforcement. Do you know how much might be going towards the Lincoln Police?

Tom Casady said...

Steve:

Oh for Pete's sake. Do these armchair quarterbacks commenting on the LJS website really think that there was a live camera tracking these events across NW Lincoln with a real-time feed to HQ? We were getting sporadic cellphone calls and the chaotic information being received at the 911 center was being relayed via radio to officers in the field. There are inevitable delays in this process, and the caller is not certain exactly where he is or what direction he's going. In circumstances like this, you are almost always a couple of minutes behind the action unless you are lucky enough to be in a position to eyeball it yourself. Get real!!

Tom Casady said...

11:43-

That list is taken from a spreadsheet I submitted to the Mayor's office late last fall on very short notice, when the U.S. Conference of Mayors asked their members for a quick list of "shovel ready" projects that could be undertaken and completed during 2009. I had a few hours to scratch down some things we could pull off during a single year, without creating huge ongoing operational costs. The personnel part was added later.

Steve said...

Perhaps the tone of my first comment was misleading. I'm certainly not one of the "armchair quarterbacks" in this case. My "video" reference was well-meaning. Given all the ground this guy covered, it's quite possible he was caught on one of our "intersection cameras", someone with a cell-phone camera, or some business' security camera.

Your explanation was precisely what I expected and was hoping to hear. Now, if we could only get the "armchair quarterbacks" to read it.

Anonymous said...

A lot of LJS commentariat watch way too many crime dramas and procedurals on TV.

Did an all- digital communications system make it on your wish list, or is analog radio here in Lancaster County for several more years?

Anonymous said...

Chief you’re some what right about cameras, but it seems that when the camera end is pointed at LEO’s they take exception to being scrutinized. Look at what happened when those BART offices. LEO’s was confiscating witness’s cell phones to get the recordings. We still have not seen the confiscated recordings! If it weren’t for the fact the people posted there recording after leaving the area (even though they were told not to), how long would the truth have remained berried?

How about arresting an ABC reporter in Denver as he and a camera crew were attempting to take pictures on a public sidewalk of Democratic senators and VIP donors leaving a private meeting?

There seems to be a disturbing nationwide trend that says LEO’s can record private citizens. BUT when those citizens turn the cameras on the LEO’s we become persecuted, harassed, and arrested.

Anonymous said...

GPS for patrol cars????? Talk about big brother!

Tom Casady said...

8:23-

Big brother? You mean actually knowing where the closest unit is, how far backup is away, where the missing patrol car is, which direction the second unit is approaching from, (and so forth)? Can you say "safety?"

Anonymous said...

I think you should do a blog on the "intersection cameras" that get mentioned every once in awhile. If you haven't already, that is. :) I think people are under the impression that these are Las Vegas casino-style cameras with the ability to zoom in and catch someone picking their nose. From what I understand, the cameras are just to monitor traffic flow, not to catch speeders, red light runners, etc. I also think it's great that all the LJS commenters think this guy was being followed "OJ Style" by some news helicopter and LPD just sat at the station and watched. *sigh* That's why I don't read the LJS comments. They just raise my blood pressure. :)

Tom Casady said...

4:14-

"OJ style"--well put. That's exactly what the critics seem to have in their mind.

You are correct about the 30+ intersection cameras. None of these are recorded. They are used by the Public Works Department to monitor and adjust traffic flow.

8:23 said...

No I mean actually being able to tell how long a cruiser has been sitting in one place or how fast it is driven to a call (and so forth). Stuff that officers could be written up and harassed for.

What's next in the name of "safety"? Listening to officer's private conversations in their cars?

Whether or not the GPS is for safely tracking cruisers you have to know that a lot of officers are going to have trust issues. I think I would if it was me. Might be something to think about before it gets suddenly sprung on them. I can imagine there is enough day to day stress in a street cop's life.

Anonymous said...

Maybe we should install a camera in Casady's office.

Anonymous said...

Another great example of how LEO’s take exception to being scrutinized.

Cops Arrest Priest For Filming Them
Police Report Says Priest Wielded Unknown Object; But Cop On Tape Knows It’s A Camera

(AP) A Roman Catholic priest who monitors law enforcement treatment of minorities with a video camera released footage that appears to contradict the police account of his own arrest.

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/03/13/national/main4865072.shtml?source=mostpop_story

It’s my understanding that Nebraska is a one parity consent state, and taping of LEO’s in a public place is permissible.

Where do you stand on this Chief?