Maria Elena Baca of the Star Tribune has confused ad agency with newspaper. Or maybe Maria is just confusing stenographer with journalist. She wrote a piece that a campaign would have had a hard time putting out, since it is that balantly an advertising piece for Sheriff Fletcher. Let’s see how high we can get on the Kelly scale of how biased can an article be.
1) Starting with the title. “Take note if you’re up to no good: Ramsey County is watching“. Does Maria Elena Baca or the Star Tribune realize that Sheriff Fletcher in previous campaigns took credit for the Metro Gang Task Force now under serious criminal investigation? Does that count as “up to no good?” Or that two close co-workers of Sheriff Fletcher were convicted of corruption? Did Maria ask if any these cameras were being installed in the Sheriff’s office? Or if any cameras were already in the Sheriff’s office? Or if any of them were actually turned on?
2) Then there is the first line “The assumption among criminals, said Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher, is that they’re not being watched.” First line quote coverage that would be awfully expensive to buy. Hmmm, could Maria have done some research about how effective cameras are or if indeed criminals really do assume that they are not watched. Then the first line might have been a better summary on if this is money well spent.
3) In these extremely tight budget times, note that neither Maria Elena Baca nor the Star Tribune questioned the spending of the $40,000 for cameras nor where that money comes from. Is this the best place to spend $40,000. Has Sheriff Fletcher been staying in budget? What else could have that $40,000 bought?
4) Next question that should be asked was whether we already had plenty of surveillance cameras left over from the Republican National Convention? Opps, that would required having the background on how cameras have been used before.
5) Now why does the word “volunteers” bring any concern to Maria Elena Baca or the Star Tribune? Not only do we have privacy concerns, but the people using the cameras are not even sworn officers. Wait, wait, the article does address the privacy concerns, especially of not using sworn officers, The article says
Yes, it is scary,” he [Sheriff Fletcher] said when asked about the cameras’ ability to peer into activities. But he stressed that part of the volunteers’ training includes a strong warning to them that the cameras are used in public areas only, for sheriff’s business only. In addition, he said, volunteers working in pairs will police each other’s use of the cameras, as will the community service officers in the next room.
Wow, “strong warning” and work in pairs, that would stop anyone from following a cute girl!
And who ensures that the Sheriff’s department does not abuse the cameras? Is there any oversight? Is there any reporting? Is there any other agency or civilian group involved?
6) So of course any balanced report would look at abuses like the this easily google found article, Abuses of surveillance cameras. Opps, no reporting of actual previous abuses.
7) Well then it is a good thing that those cameras are fixed and therefore can’t be abused. Opps,
Ramsey County’s cameras are wireless and mobile, allowing for flexibility depending on where the hot spots are.
8) So the article says that the whole point is deter criminals:
“It’s scary for the criminals, too,” he said. “The whole point is to be able to deter criminal activity because of the technology we have.”
Just like all of those cameras in banks deter bank thefts. Opps, again!
9) And right at the tail end of the article, there is just a bit more about privacy concerns!
10) How about the question, if we have “volunteers” and cameras, why do we need Sheriffs patrolling? Can we cut Sheriff staff?
11) Did anyone check on the Sheriff’s claims on creating “partnerships” with local departments? Like for example, whether Sheriff Fletcher has a track record of cooperating with local departments before? Hint, hint, the answer is “no”.
12) Hmmm, did Maria Elena Baca nor the Star Tribune note that it is an election year for Sheriff Fletcher? Or does Maria Elena Baca nor the Star Tribune care that they are being used like election ads?
Well, it wasn’t very hard to hit over a 10. My question is why would anyone buy the ad-agency news of the Star Tribune. They should be bankrupt.
So most places are having trouble getting volunteers. what happens if volunteers don’t show? Do sworn officers stop patrolling and start watching cameras? Do the cameras just sit unused? And if volunteers are showing up for this, is this really the best use of their time?