The long-awaited placement of surveillance cameras in Philipsburg (see related story) should please most law-abiding persons. After all, such systems have proven their worth in many cities around the world, allowing authorities to solve and even prevent crimes due to the availability of video images.
They therefore serve as a deterrent too, because by now the bad guys know footage of their illegal acts could easily land them behind bars. Robbers usually cover their faces, but pictures showing, for example, the direction in which they fled or what getaway vehicle was used also can go a long way in aiding the investigation.
While the system indeed needs to be monitored by police 24/7, it’s important to ensure no misuse is made of the recordings and that law enforcement authorities properly guard people’s right to privacy. Signage clearly indicating the presence of security cameras forms an essential part of that.
Some may wonder why no public bidding process was held, as phase one alone reportedly costs about two million guilders. TelEm is, of course, a logical choice not so much because it’s a Government-owned company, but primarily due to its existing local telecommunication infrastructure and expertise.
Still, other parties might have shown interest given the chance. On the French side, for example, a similar project was put on bid.
However, that was not the case either with the closed-circuit TV surveillance network being installed in Curaçao. Chinese provider Inspur reportedly had offered to do it there for free as a showcase to the region, but this was considered undesirable for geo-political and strategic reasons, taking into account the close ties with the Netherlands and the European Union (EU) as well as the USA.
The Finance Ministry in Willemstad then approved continuing with Inspur despite the lack of a bidding process. Justice Minister Nelson Navarro explained this also had to do with protecting sensitive information from ending up in the wrong hands.
For St. Maarten, the main thing is that the promised cameras are finally becoming a reality to enhance the sense of security first in the downtown shopping area and later – with phases 2 and 3 – at other locations on the Dutch side, including those frequented by visitors who drive the island’s tourism economy.
So yes, “big brother” will be watching, but if done right it’s in the public’s best interest.
Source: Daily Herald
The public’s best interest