Former Traffic Court Judge Serving New York and New Jersey

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Cameras in Newark watch the public as the public watches back

If you drive in Newark, you should know about new surveillance cameras installed to monitor their surroundings. According to a June 9 report, the cameras are accessible by the public, allowing almost anyone to see those within the camera's view.

Official camera feeds have their benefits, like having the option for the public to monitor them and to report incidents they see online. However, Newark is one of the only places where this is commonplace.

Newark is a city in which the police are not always trusted, so allowing transparency with surveillance was a goal. It also helps reduce violence by monitoring certain areas regularly. Some of the cameras overlook businesses, family homes and public housing complexes, for example.

In each area where video surveillance is used, there are signs advising those around it. Started in April, the program already has 62 cameras and aims to add 100 more. They're able to monitor the roads, homes and other spaces, catching hit-and-run drivers, robbers or those committing other crimes.

Some believe this is a violation of civil liberties and a right to privacy, but since these are public spaces, that's not a major concern. Advocates believe this program helps them monitor the police as much as police may be monitoring them, since anyone in the public can register, get online and watch the security footage live.

Cameras are, in general, most useful after a crime. They help identify those involved and can also clear up wrongful allegations. These cameras could help you prove that you didn't commit a traffic violation or prove that you didn't cause a crash. They're potentially good if used in the right context.

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