Rahway’s ‘Ring of Steel’?

London has its “Ring of Steel,” New York City is looking into getting its own version, and now a pilot program will bring surveillance cameras to downtown Rahway, starting with the Rahway Center Partnership offices.

The city’s crime rate has dropped considerably in the last decade, according to data from the Uniform Crime Report (UCR), taking a similar pattern to countywide numbers. Compared to 10 years ago (39.1 incidents reported per 1,000 residents), the crime rate in 2006 was down by a third, and has dropped each year since 2001. To put it in perspective, Rahway’s 25.8 rate in 2006 was similar to Union County’s overall figure (25.3), slightly higher than Roselle (23.6), but lower than Union (28.7). It varied compared to its immediate neighbors: Clark (14.7), Linden (32.9), Edison (26.1) and Woodbridge (31.0).

Given all those data, there are still more than a few people I know who aren’t comfortable walking downtown at night. Will cameras help? If something were to occur, you’d think there would be a better chance of getting it on video, but the NFL’s instant replay hasn’t exactly solved every problem. Cameras won’t be much help in the dark, and they didn’t stop the Hat Bandit. At least taxpayers aren’t picking up the tab on this one. It’ll be interesting to see the results of the pilot effort.

With cameras also popping up at intersections to catch motorists running red lights, it seems as if life is getting a little more Orwellian every day. A step closer to life imitating art? And how about the acting police chief’s sounding like a character right out of 1984: “It’s only scary if you have something to hide.”

What do you think? Will cameras help?