It’s been 15 years since the Y2K debacle introduced the majority of people around the world to computer technology. Fifteen years ago, the computer was still a novelty with most people not having one in their homes or any idea of what to do with one. The digital divide was a common phrase being tossed about as technology moved into the future and the black community appeared to again be left behind. Fast forward 15 years and so many people, including myself, now own a smartphone with the Internet at our fingertips.

Years ago when I worked as a programmer, my biggest job — processing 10 million records — used to take days to run. Then as advances in computer technology were put into place, that time frame went to 2-3 hours then eventually down to around 45 minutes. 

Not only did the old technology of physical tapes go away, the advent of disc/digital processing changed the amount and quality of the data that can be stored. Technology waits for no one, and newer technology is always on the horizon.

Like a lot of people, I watched the news and was saddened and disgusted to read about the woman who was raped and beaten on the Blue Line train. It turns out the boy accused of the crime lives in Austin. Even worse is the knowledge that the boy is only 15 years old. His image was captured by the CTA’s train camera system. And just like at my old job, the newer technology means that the train’s camera system captured his image faster and better than before. Gone was the grainy black-and-white image where we wondered who it could be. Instead, the quality of his image was so precise and clear that the boy’s mother marched him to the police station to turn himself in.

As I traverse the news sections of the Internet and saw other stories of young black boys and girls who have decided to choose a life of crime and were captured on video, it is now time for two things: First responsible parents still need to have “The Talk” with their children. The first talk hasn’t changed. Your children need to know about their behavior when confronted by the police. The goal at all times is to live through the encounter. 

The second talk, which is new, is to remind your children that cameras are everywhere, data storage is cheap, and committing crimes is not allowed. Because when their illicit deeds are caught on tape, there is little defense for their actions. 

In truth, cameras everywhere are what are needed more than more police. Imagine if the city offered people who owned houses on the corners a tax break for installing a camera system on the exterior of their homes. Now from every side, the entire street view is covered by cameras. How many drive-by shootings, whether by car or bike, can be prevented or solved because the perpetrator’s image is captured on tape? If people know their actions are being recorded, will their actions change? I say it will simply because those who create havoc and crimes do not stand around and dare police to arrest them. What they do instead is run and hide. Those who commit crimes still don’t want to be caught and spend time in jail.

I am an advocate of “More cameras, less crime” and, when caught on camera, “Captured on tape, no escape.”

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