"Technology is becoming more and more invasive," said Scott Henson, director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas' police accountability project. "It truly is a waste of police resources. If their goal is public safety, it's really a counterproductive gift."Anyway, so this guy Gallagher was a piece of work. I don't know why I ever agree to live radio interviews with right wingers -- 80% of them, it seems, turn out just this way. It became apparent after I was on for just a minute that Gallagher didn't really care whether cameras infringed on personal privacy or constitutional rights, or even whether they make us safer. It was just a chance to bash the ACLU for him. Three times running he declared that the ACLU was "anti-cop" in response to my point that cameras in banks and gas stations were privately owned, and therefore not restricted by the Constitution. The Constitution restricts government acting against citizens, not private conduct - that's not a particularly "liberal" view. But for him that distinction was just evidence ACLU "doesn't like cops." Just pitiful, for a self-styled conservative.
Mr. Henson argues that surveillance cameras "redirect crime, but doesn't prevent crime."
I tried to discuss the recently released long-term study by the British Home Office that found surveillance cameras in public spaces didn't reduce crime in Britain. (Cameras did lessen crime in narrow circumstances, like when they're used in parking garages, but not when used generally in public.) Gallagher said cameras were a big success in Britain and wouldn't hear anything to the contrary, but this is the biggest camera study I know of, and he appeared to know nothing more than he'd read in the morning paper. Similarly, when I argued that surveillance cameras displace but don't prevent crime and may even reduce public safety by misallocating police resources, he ignored my comments to attack my credentials -- "are you a police officer?," etc., etc. How tiresome. "You called the ACLU," I told him. "If you want a police officer's opinion, get one of them on your show!"
Anyway, Gallagher had an interesting questioning tactic he repeated throughout the interview. He would ask some provocative question he thought was damaging or made a strong point. "Didn't cameras help catch the London train bombers," or "What is your law enforcement background?" Then, when I would answer, instead of taking some thread of what I said and responding to it as you would in a conversation, Gallagher would repeat the question with greater and greater force, ignoring whatever I'd just said, ultimately leading to outright insulting accusations for which he provided no basis.
"Isn't ACLU just anti-cop? ... Isn't it?!" It didn't matter what I said. His goal was to repeat that phrase and others like it as many times as he could while I was on the air. Once I figured that out, I excused myself and got off before he was finished. I was finished with him.
UPDATE: A KSKY listener cc'd me on this letter to the station regarding my interview this morning. I think this excerpt speaks for itself:
I am a long time KSKY listener, a life long conservative Christian, Republican and no fan of the ACLU (presumably all qualities that fall within the demographic to which KSKY seeks to appeal). I actually favor the installation of cameras in downtown Dallas to reduce crime. However, Mike Gallagher's interview of the Director of the Dallas [sic: Texas] ACLU's Police Accountability Project this morning (1/20/06) was embarrassing. Following the interview, I switched to KLIF 570AM before Mr. Gallagher got back from his commercial break. Mr. Gallagher was rude, classless, antagonistic, self-aggrandizing and, though he possessed the stronger arguments, the first to sink to ad hominem attacks. His behavior left me sickened. ...