I was glancing through Ben Smith’s blog over at Politico.com and ran across an interesting entry about a Public Service Announcement running here in California concerning the LAPD’s iWatch Program.
iWatch appears to be an attempt at a city wide anti-terrorism neighborhood watch. On the LAPD’s website under iWatch it reads: “iWATCH, iREPORT, i KEEP US SAFE (iWATCH) is a community awareness program created to educate the public about behaviors and activities that may have a connection to terrorism.”
The PSA for the program features a rainbow of Los Angeles demographics – all sincerely looking into the camera and telling people to report suspicious behavior that might be linked to terrorism. It’s very 9/12/01.
And though I agree we should all be vigilante no matter the decade – I wonder if this is going too far? Are we all becoming paparazzi? And what if no crime has been committed – just presupposed by the passing iWatch spy?
And as a CNN iReporter am I being hypocritical?
Take for instance another story in today’s headlines – according to the Huffington Post in North Virginia a man was arrested for indecent exposure when, while in his home, he made coffee naked. That may sound odd until you think about your own behavior in your own home or maybe not – I don’t live with you.
Apparently the man was up in the morning making some coffee near a window and didn’t realize he was being seen. The witness who called it in framed it differently of course – she alleges he did want to be seen and pointed out the school bus stop nearby as proof of this man’s indecency. The woman was walking her child to the bus stop when she saw the man in his home. A local FOX News reporter went on to reveal the police were canvassing the neighborhood handing out flyers to residents to see if anyone else saw this man naked in his home – oh and there are rumors he might have been drunk – oh and the woman is the wife of a police officer but that has nothing to do with the police interest in this case they say. Nothing at all.
Now – in watching this video I noticed the naked guy’s home didn’t have huge windows and I wonder just how hard you had to look to see clearly in – but beyond that – is it a crime to be naked in your own home? Are we now okay with peeping tom’s as law enforcement? Is the gossiping neighbor Mrs. Kravitz from Bewitched now Deputy Kravitz?
And then there was that incident over the summer when Professor Gates was arrested for not breaking into his own home. When I first heard about the Gates incident I thought it took place in the middle of the night – which would make the passerby seem like just a good samaritan – but it took place midday in broad daylight.
Do passerby’s have the experience necessary to discern what is a crime and what is simply innocent human behavior? Do we all need to behave as if we’re being filmed all the time? Where does it end?
Getting back to iWatch – I live in the Los Angeles area and have lived in some of the more dangerous neighborhoods in the city during my nearly 15 years of residency. I wonder why all those gun shots I would hear while I lived in Korea Town and all those drive-by’s that killed young kids in South Central – I wonder why those acts of violent behavior never got the golden terrorism label?
And I also wonder – in a town filled with pretty much anything and everyone you could think of – a town where many come to live uniquely – in a town where Hollywood’s make-believe rules the streets – would anyone notice something considered suspicious?
Here is the PSA:
Looking at the list of suspicious behavior on the LAPD’s iWatch site I noticed that most of the behavior listed matches that of a typical art student, film maker or L.A. Paparazzi:
-People drawing or measuring important buildings.
-Strangers asking questions about security or building security procedures.
-Briefcase, suitcase, backpack, or package left behind.
-Cars or trucks left in No Parking zones in front of important buildings.
-Intruders in secure areas where they are not supposed to be.
-Chemical smells or fumes that worry you.
-People asking questions about sensitive information such as building blueprints, security plans, or VIP travel schedules without a right or need to know.
-Purchasing supplies or equipment that can be used to make bombs or weapons or purchasing uniforms without having the proper credentials.