Joe Cadillic writes:
If you are having trouble digesting the headline, just imagine how much trouble I am having trying to write about it.
In what has to be the most ludicrous excuse ever made by police to spy on citizens, this one is at the top of my list.
Last month the Riverhead Police Department in New York and town officials claimed that drones, increased foot patrols and surveillance cameras would help revitalize downtown.
The headline reads, “Drones, police foot patrols, more floated to uplift Riverhead’s downtown.”
“We’re concerned about revitalizing downtown, and part of the revitalization of downtown is also public safety,” Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith said in a Sept. 4 interview. “Questions have come up, whether it be the perception of safety…”
How do officials plan to change the public’s “perception of safety”?
Smith claims that police drones will “create more of a community connection in the area. More eyes and ears in the area, will hopefully lead to more people coming to shop and recreate in downtown more.”
Read more on MassPrivateI.
Long Island has a lot of little towns all with their own “Main Streets” and downtowns. Some have already done a great job of making their commercial area more attractive and inviting, whether it’s to shop, walk around, or find an interesting place for lunch or dinner. While some towns have become run down over the years, others have invested in making their downtowns more vibrant and charming, with quirky little stores, luncheon places, benches where tired shoppers can sit for a few minutes, and convenient parking or updated train stations to encourage a trip to their towns. Some also have street fairs to draw visitors.
When I think of going to one of these towns, I do not think of “Oh, this town is safer because of drones and police surveillance.” I think about whether they have interesting shops, whether there is convenient parking, and whether there’s some place to get coffee and lunch. Is there an art gallery or store in town that displays works by local artisans? Is there a book store? A clothing store with unusual clothes or accessories?
I don’t recall Riverhead ever having a charming downtown, and I think it’s a great idea to try to invest in the town and revitalize it. But invest in charm and interest, not surveillance, folks. Yes, you can increase foot patrol/visibility of local police if they’re friendly and not designed to intimidate, but if you’re spending your budget on surveillance, you probably won’t see me visiting your town soon.