Here’s hoping that Ogden’s new Blade Runner-style crime watch program will help the city keep the ex-con reprobate population under control. But the police brass already is giving skeptics and paranoids stockpiles of ammo.
It’s simply unreal and unforgivable that Chief Jon Greiner hasn’t had the program’s exact budget numbers to provide during the public and media dog-and-pony shows, like the one described in today’s Standard-Examiner. He gave a vague total, and even less information about the supposedly benevolent private technology provider who’s building and running a lot of the technical muscle that allows the cops to keep watch over crime-ridden neighborhoods with databases and bright red bad-guys-zone gridlines.
How much, exactly, will Ogden taxpayers be on the hook for the annual operation of the crime center? What will be the eventual expense of the technology vendor’s wizardry? I don’t believe in free lunches, so I’ll be curious.
Coupled with the coming surveillance blimp, Ogden police will be able to watch over neighborhoods and capture and crunch observable data such as license plate numbers, etc. Do you want your car tags in that database? Sure, it’s all innocent, they say — until someone screws up with the data or the software and your car gets flagged as a gang getaway ride.
Go ahead, call me paranoid. But officialdom’s failure to readily disclose all budgetary details is not reassuring. And Greiner’s proclamation that the program “is not Big Brother” is a blithe dismissal that should be taken with some skepticism. The program smells like geeky overkill that will have to prove itself over time, at considerable cost (?) . Let’s hope it ends up to be a worthwhile step up from tried-and-true shoe-leather policing.