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Dave Ross

Good cam /bad cam

This Monday, April 15, 2013 photo provided by Bob Leonard shows third from left, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was dubbed Suspect No. 1 and second from left, Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, who was dubbed Suspect No. 2 in the Boston Marathon bombings. (AP Photo)

There are two sides to living in a society that never blinks – where thousands of cameras, public and private, capture everything.

When those pictures are used to solve a crime, like Boston bombings, we’re all on board.

Suspect 1 and Suspect 2 (Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev) were chosen by investigators who took pains to determine that the two were intimately associated with the bomb.

But the flip side is what happened the day before. When various newspapers decided to publish a law enforcement email never intended for publication, showing two men in a crowd, with bright red circles drawn around their faces.

A few hours later the paper said “Authorities determined neither [man] had any information or role in Monday’s attacks at the Boston Marathon.” But since you can’t un-publish anything anymore, that picture will live forever – two innocent people splashed on the front page in connection with an outrageous attack.

This is the very thing that critics of security cameras worry about – destroying the reputations of people whose only offense was being in focus.

When the camera images are vetted before being published, and when they help law enforcement solve a crime, I think most people would say no problem.

But you start leaking the images of innocent people in association with an infamous crime – pretty soon, it won’t be just the anarchists wearing masks when they go out.

Read more:
Boston suspect’s father says he’s a ‘true angel’

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About the Author

Dave Ross

Dave Ross hosts the Morning News on KIRO Radio weekdays from 5-9 a.m. Dave has won the national Edward R. Murrow Award for writing five times since he started at KIRO Radio in 1978.


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