Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Cuyahoga County's Creepiest City?

Cleveland Magazine often includes bonus magazines, usually puff pieces for area industry and municipalities.  A recent one is for Independence, a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio USA.  Usually, these are pretty boring reads, basically press releases for the city as it tries to compete against others for residents, businesses, and so forth.

As an aside, my gut instinct is that these magazines seldom accomplish little aside from wasting some taxpayer dollars and employing a few writers and graphic designers briefly.  I didn't know much about Independence other than they don't like homeless people, so I suppose the magazine was informative.

Anyway, I found it surprising that Independence brags about being a surveillance camera police state basically.  Apparently, they've ringed the town with security cameras and license plate readers and run everyone's license plate through a national crime database.  What's not astounding is that they're doing this.  Plenty of other cities do this as well, a practice that does raise civil liberty issues (for an overview, check out https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/research-reports/automatic-license-plate-readers-legal-status-and-policy-recommendations).  What's astounding is that the city, instead of keeping their 1984-style creepiness on the down low, tries to use it as a selling point to attract businesses and residents to the city.  Maybe there are people out there who are comforted by the fact that the police will know every time they go to the grocery store, but I am not one of them.  Despite the recovery of stolen cars trumpeted in the article, I suspect this is overall a waste of money that provides a patina of security rather than the real thing.  While the police and their computers are busy scanning every car on the road, criminals are probably busy stealing and switching license plates before they pass through town to commit another crime.

But if you really want to live in a dystopian, panopticon suburb, then this may be the place for you!

For more fun with surveillance society, check out my novel Blog Love Omega Glee!

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