Cameras in Parks Are a Step Too Far
Civil liberty is the key component of this issue.
We all want safety and security for ourselves and our families.
Those of us who whose hair has either left the room or turned to gray or white certainly remember the days when parents didn't seem to worry as much about how safe their children were when they left the house for the day.
As a young skinny nine-year-old, summer days meant that I would leave the house shortly after breakfast on my stingray bicycle with the banana seat. The itinerary would be fluid as the day's events would take me to places both planned and unplanned. Lunch would often be at a friend's house and on occasion we would lunch at my mothers table. We usually didn't know whose mom would feed us until we all piled into the kitchen.
Most times, our afternoons would include unscheduled and unsupervised games that frequently evolved into the kind of roughhousing young boys are known for. Knees would be scraped, heads banged and, once in a while, an eye blackened or a nose bloodied.
We were kids, and we acted like kids. The world wasn't less dangerous, we were just less aware of the dangers.
Supper (dinner was for the haves, not the have nots) would almost always be at home. When the table was cleared and the plates washed, we would head out again knowing full well which street light closest to home was the last to go on. That light would dictate when a return home was due.
There were bad people out there, including a few priests and others of the supposed "responsible types." Concerned parents would ensure their children were aware of those characters.
One thing I still see and hear my father say is, "see that guy riding around with all of those kids in his truck? If I ever see you anywhere near him I'll kick your behind." That's all I needed to hear. There was also a little league coach he didn't trust, so I never played.
Somehow we all survived without cell phones, GPS, baby fingerprints, photos on file with the PD or micro-chips in out little backsides.
We also survived without cameras in the public parks.
These days many kids are never out of contact with their parents. That is not a bad thing, it's just the way it is. The world can be perilous. It was so in 1969, and it is still so in 2012.
We have come to a point as a society where it is becoming accepted that we will appear on camera just about everywhere we go — markets, banks, schools, parking lots and traffic intersections to list a few. In an attempt to provide security and, perhaps save budget money, both private businesses and governments are looking at expanding camera usage.
Another aspect of this is the profit motive of the companies who design, manufacture, market and maintain these cameras. Many of the statistics used to support installation of these devices are created and published by these very same companies.
Yes, the world is dangerous, it always has been and always will be. Good parents find a way to keep their children safe and also understand that there will be times when they will be unable to provide that safety net.
With all due respect to those who prefer the security over the civil liberty aspects, I say it is time here in Salem to draw a line in the sand.
We already have cameras at the Common, whose fence still takes a regular beating. Let's keep them out of the rest of our public parks.