The Criminals and the Crime Cameras
Jury selection started this past Monday in the civil trial that alleges the City of New Orleans Technology Office basically stole other companies ideas and then tried to sell them to other cities as their own technology. The guy to your left is former technology chief Greg Meffert. During the 2006 mayoral campaign, the radio station met a man named Grant Holcumb. This was maybe 5 months after Hurricane Katrina and the issue of interoperability in communications was a major issue and topic of discussion. Mr. Holcumb had developed a system that basically would have allowed all types of different communication systems to operate openly during times of emergency. I’m not attempting to re-hash old news, just point out that Mr. Holcumb basically accused Greg Meffert of squashing the program because the city had existing deals with Microsoft, which would not have benefited from the open system Mr Holcumb had developed.
Mayor Nagin has touted the current “crime camera” program over and over again as a way to assist the NOPD with not only getting a handle on crime in so-called hot spots throughout the city but also help the police and DA’s office solve crimes. The initial plan was for 1000 cameras throughout the city. Then it became 240 cameras at a proposed cost of 2.6 million. Which wasn’t the case. The IG’s office released a report that stated the city at that point had paid 6.6 million out for far less than 240 cameras. As we have found out recently as well, the cameras that have been installed rarely work because of networking and other issues. It is also my understanding that not one city owned crime camera has lead to a arrest of a suspected criminal of any kind. Privately owned surveillance cameras have given the police more leads than the city owned and installed for 6.6 million dollar cameras have.
The Mayor’s Technology office has been under fire frankly since the interoperability issue came to light. Focus on that office seemed to grow after then local Homeland Security director Col. Terry Ebert stated that he thought the system Mr Holcumb had developed would have worked during Hurricane Katrina and “helped save lives.” The Mayors office didn’t allow any more interviews from Col Ebert after that one. Shocking huh?
The civil suit is just the beginning with the Mayor’s Office of Technology. The Feds are all over that joint like white on rice. Trips paid for by companies receiving city contracts through that office, companies owned by the “Director’s” of the office doing business with basically the office and budgets they controlled. This is the tip of the iceberg with these folks and I would be willing to bet everything I own that some folks who worked or ran that particular city agency will end up in jail for a long time. If only the crime cameras had been working and recording the criminals who were charged with installing the crime camera network.