Kevin Williams, resident of a San Francisco public housing development, cited the case of a surveillance camera that caught a shooter on tape, but police said the footage was blurry and unsuccessful in helping detectives solve the case. “The police can’t solve a crime. How are the cameras gonna do it?” asked Williams, 50. “It’s a waste of taxpayers’ money.” Most residents interviewed said they are happy to have any sort of crime-fighting device in their neighborhoods, but agreed the cameras are not the way to fix a spike in violent crime.
The news from a Board of Supervisors Public Safety Committee meeting that the cameras have been ineffective in helping solve homicides was far from new to some residents who live in developments owned by the federal San Francisco Housing Authority. Housing Authority Director Gregg Fortner argues the cameras were never put on the sites to solve homicides, but rather to deter people from committing all types of crimes. “People are missing the point,” Fortner said. “Safety cameras are there for crime prevention which is something you can’t measure. The more hearings we have, the more attention that is brought to them and the more people find ways to get around them.” There are 178 cameras on 26 of the 53 public housing sites.