SF safety cameras result in less thefts

January 10, 2009 5:44:44 PM PST
The city and county of San Francisco released the findings and recommendations of a report Friday about the effectiveness of the city's Community Safety Cameras.

The report, compiled by the University of California at Berkeley's Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society, found a 24 percent decrease in thefts in areas within view of the safety cameras while making several recommendations to improve the program.

The study found a decline in crimes such as purse snatching, theft from buildings, and theft from vehicles.

Impact on violent crimes, homicides, drug offenses, prostitution and other crimes was not found in the report.

The report said that many of the cameras have poor image quality, but noted that footage has been useful for criminal investigations.

The study praised the city for its community participation and respect of privacy rights in the program, but recommended the improvement of image quality, as well as the process for requesting footage.

"This study makes some interesting findings and recommendations," San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom said in a prepared statement. "I know our camera program isn't perfect, but I am committed to keeping these cameras in place until I hear from the community that they are no longer needed."

The full report can be found online. The commission from UC Berkeley will present the report to the San Francisco Police Commission on Wednesday.