Every day, everywhere you go, you should be smiling. That's because a surveillance camera is watching you.
I don't want to sound like I'm paranoid about all the surveillance that goes on. I'm not. The cameras have become a fact of life. My point here is how the recordings can be used more effectively by authorities through the media.
Here are a few examples of how newspapers have been involved when crimes occurred and video was reviewed:
Lisbon police released a still photo from a recording last week of two men accused of stealing items out of storage sheds this summer. The photo was published in Columbiana County papers.
The two men were seen July 15 and Aug. 11. Police think they might live out of state and appealed to the public to notify them if they recognized the two men. That's good. The case is ongoing.
In a story we had July 12, Austintown Police said they were searching for a man who robbed First Place Bank on Meridian Road. They said a white man walked into the bank and demanded cash. They went on to say no other description of the robber was available and that they were reviewing the bank surveillance video.
But get this. They said they ''do not plan to release it to the media at this time.'' Why not?
On July 6, Newton Falls police released a photo of a white Dodge Intrepid believed to be occupied by suspects involved in a murder there earlier in the day. The photo was taken from a surveillance camera in the area. The car, they said, was believed to be occupied by two suspects wanted in the murders.
Residents responded about the whereabouts of the vehicle, which eventually helped police locate a a suspect. The suspect shot himself before police could arrest him.
The recordings can even be used for things like vandalism. On June 15, we printed a story about Warren police checking video to identify who vandalized the stage area of the Warren Community Amphitheatre. Also, Howland Township installed cameras in its Township Park area to reduce vandalism in the area.
In Hubbard, police used still photos from a security camera to post on July 15 on the department's Facebook page after a robbery at a Walgreens on July 13. Tips came in through the Internet and a day or two later, they made an arrest.
It has been about a year or so since Warren police were called to investigate a man with a gun running around in a store chasing someone. Of course they went to the surveillance video. We asked for the video and were denied access to it.
All we wanted to do was post it on our website and publish a still photo in the print edition. We didn't get it, which means the public didn't, either. They said the video was part of the investigation. To my knowledge, the case quietly went away.
I could go on and on, but it's clear that these recordings are valuable in solving crimes. They are even more valuable when shown to the public. Releasing the recordings to the media works, or at least helps. When recordings are released expeditiously, the outcomes are even better. It is my hope that through cooperation, coordination and due diligence, the newspaper and area law enforcement officials can improve on this process for the betterment of the communities we serve.
Robinson is the editor of the Tribune Chronicle. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.