I just read in the paper that Ra'anana has installed more than 100 surveillance cameras throughout the city to help reduce crime. While I understand that there is good reasons for taking such actions, I couldn't help but think that that is going hinder people's personal freedoms.
A few weeks ago a 13-year-old friend of mine was confronted on a Ra'anana street by a guy who felt the need to expose himself to her. Needless to say, she was upset and unnerved by the expose. I would like to think that I would handle such an incident much better because I am so much older but the truth is, nudity has its place -- but that place in not on the street with strangers. I like to think that if that happened to me, I would laugh in the flasher's face and tell him or her to get lost. Of course, it's easy to have such bravado when it isn't happening to you.
Back to the point. Have the police caught this guy? No. Have they really looked for this guy? I am willing to bet that they have not. Which leads me back to the cameras. Are the police actually going to a) use the information to hunt down criminals and deviants or b) are they simply expecting the cameras to act as a deterrent in their own right? My fear is that the answer is B.
A few years ago another sexual deviant physically attacked a 12-year-old boy in the foyer of his Ra'anana apartment building. Public outrage was high -- at least from the Anglo community. It may have been the same with the Hebrew-speaking community but since I do not follow the hebrew media that carefully, I cannot say with any confidence.
A few weeks later, as I drove by the police station, I noticed a hullaballoo happening outside so I yelled to one of the police officers (this is not unusual behaviour in Israel) to ask whether or not this was the guy who had assaulted the kid. The police officer looked at me as if I was nuts. In an attempt to save face, I then asked him if they were looking for that guy. After another equally vacant stare I realized that I was simply wasting my breath.
Now, on the other hand, if you are a potential terrorist on the run in Israel, the police will get actively involved (along with the army and the Border Police) to hunt you down -- and they will find you. Don't get me wrong ... this is a good thing. A very good thing. But it does not require municipal security cameras. From what I can tell, it does require excellent groundwork and good contacts with a constituency that I am not familiar with. And if it is a potential terrorist on the lose, there is no one I would trust more that the three groups listed above.
However, if some slimeball breaks into your house and steals your valuables, or if someone feels the need to share his or her private parts with you on a city street, you are probably out of luck. And therefore, I think the cameras should go in favour of people having the right to privately pick their noses in public!