MEMPHIS, Tenn. — I was on a flight from Phoenix to Memphis Tuesday night and as we were landing, a passenger asked, "What's with all the flashing blue lights everywhere?"
He had a point. The sea of blue lights made us look like a city under siege.
I told him about the massive program that started 10 years ago and how there are more than 2,000 cameras that cost at least $10 million and are supposed to deter crime.
He said, "That's great, but are they working?"
Kudos to The Daily Memphian which recently put together the exact data.
In 2010, before many cameras were installed, Memphis reported about 1,500 crimes per 100,000 people. But in 2020, with thousands of cameras monitoring our streets, violent crime is up 57% to 2,351 per 100,000 people.
Police reports only mention the cameras in less than 3% of last year's 74,000 crimes. They're mentioned in just one of 228 killings.
Yet, we keep buying these cameras from SkyCop, which a former Memphis police sergeant helped invent and who is now a SkyCop vice president.
It's time for us to ask are these SkyCop cameras really worth the money, or are they giving us a false sense of security, not to mention giving visitors a bad first impression of our city?
I'd love to hear what you think. Join the conversation by email (email@example.com), or my Facebook and Twitter pages.