CMPD continues push to use crime cameras

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Following the season premier of Person of Interest on CBS, WBTV took a closer look at crime cameras in our area. Are they beneficial? What do people think about them?

In the popular CBS television show, a network of cameras predict future crime. Does that sound far-fetched? According to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police (CMPD) it is!

Major Steve Willis runs the CMPD crime camera system. He took out the Hollywood touch, and gave WBTV the real deal on the cameras popping up on a street near you.

"It's got a fog dome at the bottom or a tinted dome that has a camera in it," he said.

Willis says he's a fan of Person of Interest but even a fan can admit it creates unreasonable expectations.

"People expect that the cameras are going to be there to solve the crime 100 percent of the time and that's just not the case. The video is what it is," he said.

Willis added that the camera has to be pointed in the right direction and catch a crime at the perfect time for it to be effective. Willis says there are 135 video cameras around Mecklenburg county all watched 24 hours a day in this command center. Most cameras are Uptown thanks to the DNC.

"We're in the process of re-deploying 40 of those cameras across the footprint of the county, where we have some high crime areas," he said.

WBTV went uptown, an area blanketed by the eyes in the sky to ask people their thoughts.

"It's good. It's safe. You see cameras and you know you're being watched so some people might think twice before they do something," said Charlotte resident Holly Hamilton.

While many agree with Hamilton, some are concerned about privacy.

"People make the argument that it infringes on your privacy, the individual. That's not the reality. There is no privacy when you are outdoors. It doesn't exist," said Charlotte resident John Reasor.

Willis says privacy is a top concern, but if the cameras couldn't hold up in court, you wouldn't see them looking right back at you.

"As technology grows it's going to grow but I think we're in a good place right now," Willis said.

On Monday, Charlotte City Council approved more funding to add similar cameras around the city and Mecklenburg County.

Copyright 2013 WBTV. All rights reserved.