Murder in Front of Broken Camera Missed

By: Carlton Purvis, Published on May 23, 2013

In March, a man was shot and killed within view of a surveillance camera in a Miami public housing community. It was not until police tried to pull video that they learned the camera was not working. The wiring had been ripped out.

(Screenshot of the destroyed wires from a CBS Miami broadcast.)
 
It is not clear how much the city knew about the status of the system in Arthur Mays Villas, but the less than two-year-old installation had been problematic for some time, according to the Miami Herald [link no longer available]. The paper says cameras were often vandalized or moved to point in different directions.

The $118,000, 22-camera system came with a year of maintenance and support, which had expired more than a year before the murder (see the full contract executed May 2011). We could not find any evidence or documentation that the support had been extended.

System Details

The system included 19 analog cameras with lenses and enclosures at ~$620 per camera and six IndigoVision encoders for ~$810 per camera. 

An excerpt from the contract shows the camera and encoder pricing:


Neither Miami Public Housing and Community Development, the agency responsible for the system nor the integrator, Aware Digital, returned our phone calls or emails, leaving many questions about the dysfunctional system unanswered. Why were the cameras not serviced in a timely manner and what is the status of the cameras now?

However, after the family of the shooting victim said it planned to file a lawsuit against the city and Aware Digital, the housing authority released a statement [link no longer available] saying, "We are currently in the process to award a contract for the repair, upgrade and service of the cameras."

IPVM Analysis

It seems that the city should be more concerned about the functionality of a system in an area designated by police as one of the highest crime areas in Miami, where three murders took place in the preceding five months. By letting broken cameras continue in an area where they would certainly be of value and by failing to disclose if the problem had been fixed, it is clear that the City of Miami and the Public Housing and Community Development feel they do not have to answer to the public in this case (We have requested copies of all audits, maintenance and repair records and incident reports related to the system). 

Without knowing the extent of the vandalism, it seems some of the problems mentioned in the Herald story could have been avoided with the most basic step: Mounting cameras and boxes higher to make it more difficult to change their direction or pull out wires.

The specified products did not help. Spending an average of $1400+ per fixed camera for new analog cameras and encoders is highly questionable, considering top of the line HD camera can be had (even in 2011) for significantly less than that. Plus, the money saved could be used for maintenance.

It should not take a murder and a lawsuit for an end user to find out their system is not working and do something about it. For more on maintenance, see our service contract / maintenance contracts guide.

Comments (6) : Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

2020 Camera Book Released on Jan 10, 2020
This is the best, most comprehensive security camera training in the world, based on our unprecedented testing. Now, all IPVM PRO Members can get...
Verified Response Discontinued in Silicon Valley San Jose on Feb 28, 2019
Almost all security alarms are false. This has driven some municipalities to require verified response before dispatching police. However, now San...
US City Sued For Hiding Surveillance Camera Map on Mar 08, 2019
UPDATE: The judgment is now in and updated information is at the bottom of the post. Should maps of public surveillance camera locations be kept...
Verkada Wins $783,000 Memphis Deal on Apr 29, 2019
The US city, most famous in video surveillance for standardizing on Hikvision, has issued an RFQ for 962 Verkada cameras due Wednesday, May 1,...
Manufacturer Favorability Guide 2019 on Jun 12, 2019
The 259 page PDF guide may be downloaded inside by all IPVM members. It includes our manufacturer favorability rankings and individual...
Kidnapping Victim Rescued With Video From Ring Doorbell Camera on May 24, 2019
A kidnapping victim was rescued within 24 hours, with the police crediting video from a Ring Doorbell camera as key to solving the case. A girl was...
First Video Surveillance GDPR Fine In France on Jul 08, 2019
The French government has imposed a sizeable fine on a small business for violating the GDPR after it constantly filmed employees without informing...
Covert Elevator Face Recognition on Oct 24, 2019
Covert elevator facial recognition has the potential to solve the cost and complexity of elevator surveillance while engendering immense privacy...
France Declares School Facial Recognition Illegal Due to GDPR on Oct 31, 2019
France is the latest European country to effectively prohibit facial recognition as a school access control solution, even with the consent of...
Clearview AI Alarm - NY Times Report Says "Might End Privacy" on Jan 20, 2020
Over the weekend, the NY Times released a report titled "The Secretive Company That Might End Privacy as We Know It" about a company named...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Hazardous & Explosion Proof Access Control Tutorial on Feb 27, 2020
Controlling access to hazardous environments requires equipment meeting specific ratings that certify they will not start fires or will not...
Motorola / Avigilon Drops ISC West on Feb 26, 2020
Motorola Solutions has pulled out of ISC West 2020 effective immediately, because of coronavirus concerns, IPVM has learned. This is done amidst...
Cancel or Not? Industry Split Over ISC West on Feb 26, 2020
The industry is split, polarized, over whether ISC West 2020 should run or be canceled. New IPVM survey results of 400+ respondents show heated...
Coronavirus Hits Sony, Bosch Says Switch on Feb 26, 2020
Sony's fall in video surveillance has been severe over the past decade. Now, they may be done. In this note, we examine Bosch's new...
Video Surveillance Cameras 101 on Feb 25, 2020
Cameras come in many shapes, sizes and specifications. This 101 examines the basics of cameras and features used in 2020. In this report, we...
Favorite Video Analytic Manufacturers 2020 on Feb 25, 2020
Video analytics is now as hot as ever, driven by the excitement of advancing deep learning offers. But what are actually integrator's...
Latest London Police Facial Recognition Suffers Serious Issues on Feb 24, 2020
On February 20, IPVM visited another live face rec deployment by London police, but this time the system was thwarted by technical problems and...
Masks Cause Major Facial Recognition Problems on Feb 24, 2020
Coronavirus is spurring an increase in the use of medical masks, which new IPVM test results show cause major problems for facial recognition...
Every VMS Will Become a VSaaS on Feb 21, 2020
VMS is ending. Soon every VMS will be a VSaaS. Competitive dynamics will be redrawn. What does this mean? VMS Historically...
Video Surveillance 101 Course - Last Chance on Feb 20, 2020
This is the last chance to join IPVM's first Video Surveillance 101 course, designed to help those new to the industry to quickly understand the...