Ready for our close-up
In response to Marty Levine's "Getting the Picture" [Feb. 27]: I'd like to speak up as part of the 71 percent of Americans who would like to see more surveillance cameras in public places, particularly Pittsburgh. The ABC News/Washington Post numbers don't quite tell the whole story.
I favor more surveillance before our crater-sized potholes are filled, holes like the ones on Penn Avenue in Bloomfield/Garfield, the ones that seem as though they've been with us since before Pittsburgh was settled. I favor increased camera placement before our dark streets are given a lighting upgrade, because in-street crimes will still be committed regardless of pointless mood lighting, but then only by those criminals agile enough to avoid falling into sewage systems opened through deepening potholes, which thereby eliminates criminal activity by all but the most fit to survive. And most of all, I support additional cameras because Dish Network satellite dishes need to be dethroned as our buildings' ugliest, most ominous technology receptors before Ravenstahl can find a comparable fringe project to divert these Homeland Security handouts to instead. Gotta love these one-eyed watchers.
As always, safety on and in front of a screen over safety in the streets.
-- Todd Faltin, Lawrenceville
Story lacks local focus
I was struck by how little information was given in "Getting the Picture" as to the increase in surveillance cameras around the city. While reading about Chicago, San Francisco and London might be interesting, is it news that our brave mayor eagerly regurgitates the policies of Homeland Security? Especially surprising is that Mr. Levine, who normally has so much to say about the virtues of "block watch" vigilantism, does not once mention the cameras that Lawrenceville United is putting up throughout one of the city's largest neighborhoods. At the very least, an article that spends most of its time making oblique statements about the implementation of federal funds elsewhere should not purport to concern itself with the "safety" of those in Pittsburgh.
Nothing beats police on the beat
It's gratifying to see CP examine the growing trend toward surveillance today. I would like to throw a few cents in on two points.
Hiring more police officers would not only provide quicker response than might cameras, but also -- thanks to the city's residency requirement -- hopefully help local police develop a friendlier relationship with the communities they serve. Unlike cameras, which represent some outside "them" intruding on privacy without local benefit, local officers can put a human face on the law.
The TAVI suspect-collection software is also quite spooky. I especially like how the system is designed to catch folks who loiter, photograph them, and report them as either on a watch-list or as an "unknown insurgent."
Situation: folks standing around near the Carnegie Mellon Software Engineering Institute's front steps on Fifth Avenue. Are they: a) POG members planning to peacefully protest Institute operations; b) hoodlums scheming to vandalize the cathedral across the street; c) goons waiting to rob someone at the nearby ATM; or d) people simply waiting for an outbound bus?
Answer: D. But you can never be too careful, so it's good we got all those potential insurgents photographed.
I realize the system is theoretically intended for Iraq, not Oakland. Recalling Mr. Deitch's article ["Military Police," March 22, 2007] on the Iraq-style policing used in Homestead, though, I don't feel much safer.
Instead of posting cameras or rolling the SWAT officers through in their armored vehicle, perhaps it would be more cost-effective to have plain old beat cops who happen to live in the area, have done so for years, and are approachable when someone sees bad things happening.
Hiring more police seems a better solution than posting cameras; after all, News of the Weird routinely notes cases where off-duty police actually stopped a crime. When has a camera ever stopped anything?
-- Chris Strayer, Point Breeze
The star of the show
Thank you for Adam Fleming's wonderful article mentioning Pittsburgh Housing Development Corp.'s new Energy Star Housing under construction in Hazelwood ["URA-financed home construction must be energy conscious," Feb. 27]. PHDC sees this project as a logical extension of its mission to provide affordable housing throughout Pittsburgh. We hope that this is only the beginning of a larger energy-efficient housing trend in the city.
We would be remiss, however, if we did not mention the contributions of our neighborhood partner, Hazelwood Initiative, which has worked diligently with PHDC to see this project through to construction. Without dedicated community organizations, the work of PHDC would not succeed. Full credit should be given to Hazelwood Initiative and the hours of work they have put into this development.
-- David Howe, Manager
Pittsburgh Housing Development Corp.