Download this Paper Open PDF in Browser

Crime, Surveillance, and Communities

37 Pages Posted: 8 Jan 2013  

I. Bennett Capers

Brooklyn Law School

Date Written: January 8, 2013


Quite simply, we have become a surveillance state. Cameras — both those controlled by the state, and those installed by private entities — watch our every move, at least in public. For the most part, this public surveillance is unregulated, beyond the purview of the Fourth Amendment, and to many civil libertarians, should signal alarm. This Article challenges these assumptions, and suggests that in thinking about surveillance cameras and other technologies, we must listen to communities. For many communities, public surveillance not only has the benefit for deterring crime and aiding in the apprehension of criminals. In these communities, public surveillance can also function to monitor the police, reduce racial profiling, curb police brutality, and ultimately increase perceptions of legitimacy. The question thus becomes, not how we can use the Fourth Amendment to limit public surveillance, but rather how can we use the Fourth Amendment to harness public surveillance’s full potential.

Keywords: Mass surveillance, surveillance cameras, CCTV, Fourth Amendment, United States v. Jones, communities, community policing

Suggested Citation

Capers, I. Bennett, Crime, Surveillance, and Communities (January 8, 2013). Fordham Urban Law Journal, Forthcoming; Brooklyn Law School, Legal Studies Paper No. 320. Available at SSRN:

I. Bennett Capers (Contact Author)

Brooklyn Law School ( email )

250 Joralemon Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
United States


Paper statistics

Abstract Views