Smile! The Baltimore police are watching you sip that beer.
Cameras on the street? OK.
Cameras in the workplace? OK.
Cameras at the intersection? OK.
But cameras in the corner bar? Hmm ...
According to this piece by Sun crime writer Peter Hermann, police will be getting live feeds from new surveillance cameras inside Shirley's Honey Hole on East Oliver Street.
In recent months, Shirley's Honey Hole has been linked to violence and drug dealing. To keep the city from padlocking her bar, owner Shirley Barner struck a deal with the cops: She would hire a security guard and set up surveillance cameras inside and outside her bar.
In return, Shirley's Honey Hole stays open ...
This is the first time a private business has allowed a live camera feed which goes directly into the Citiwatch command center on Howard Street, according to the story.
While I understand the situation, this whole thing makes me a little queasy. It's the beginning of a very slippery slope, if you ask me.
On his blog, Crime Beat, Hermann writes:
A key question, I think, is how much consent did the owner Shirley Barner really give if she accepted the terms as part of a plea deal to save her business? And what's stopping the city from making cameras-linked-to cops a part of other plea deals with other problem bars? And why stop there. Make it a condition for a liquor license, or zoning improvements, or just about anything else?
What do you think about all this?
(Baltimore Sun archive photo)