Smile For The Camera, Criminals
Criminals may have nothing to smile about when they are caught on camera by law enforcement or ordinary citizens. Take for instance Wilfredo Ponte, a flasher who was apprehended after two Queens, N.Y., schoolgirls took a picture of him with their camera phones.
Mothers in Manteca, Calif., use camera phones to assist with controlling park vandalism.
More than 257 million camera phones were shipped around the globe in 2004. CNN, AOL, NBC, and YouTube now ask citizens to post photos and videos on their sites.
PowerPhone launched a new service on Aug. 7 that allows users to send photos to a 911 operator.
The trend of using camera phones to fight crime is growing and seems to be working, but some law enforcement officials are concerned. “We’re not encouraging people to use their cell phones as crime fighters,” says Officer Richard Henry at the Fairfax County Police Department. “We don’t want people to put themselves in harm’s way to take a picture. [But] if they do get it, it may be of some assistance.”
Camera phone images do not necessarily mean convictions for criminals, according to Henry, but Alan Reiter at Wireless Internet & Mobile Computer says the phones are still beneficial. “If you ask 10 people at a crime scene what happened, it’s quite possible you’ll get 10 different variations of the same story,” Reiter says. “There are details that might be picked up by a photo that even eyewitnesses might not notice [and] there are times where taking a photo is faster than writing it down.”
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from the Washington Times (08/25/06) P. A2; Pepose, David .