Premier Iemma is moving quickly to impose his footprint on the war on
terror. He apparently wants citizens enrolled as “terror marshals,” an
idea floated on his behalf today by The Daily Telegraph. Meanwhile, Lord Mayor Clover Moore wants police to monitor spy cameras for terrorist types (report here).

At first blush, mobilising a vigilant volunteer army of wardens when
terror strikes might seem a tougher task than police dunking doughnuts
in front of a bank of videos monitoring al-Qaeda operatives. After all,
Sydney already has a large number of cameras up and running – they
were first introduced in the 90s to tackle gangs running riot in George
Street.

And training a legion of civilian terror marshals to maintain order in
large crowds and pass on official instructions promises to be a
logistics headache.

However, it may be that the human factor is the easier option. A
disturbing story in the nation’s capital reminds us what can happen
when police rely on technology as their eyes and ears. Last Saturday,
21-year-old Clea Rose was run down by a car being chased by police
through Canberra’s central bus interchange. This was followed by the
peculiar news that all three of the police cameras which could have
recorded the potentially fatal incident had an unspecified “technical
issue.” The glitch wasn’t so grave that it can’t be easily remedied,
but we may never know what actually happened. Check out the fallout here.

The moral for NSW police? To avoid awkward missing evidence, keep those spy cameras switched on.

Peter Fray

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