In Orlando, Big Brother really is watching.
That's something Joe E. Haywood, a 29-year-old from Florida, found out earlier this week after a police officer monitoring the feed from an electrical pole-mounted camera allegedly caught him smoking pot.
A police sergeant monitoring the camera spotted the suspect and his two buddies allegedly lighting up outside an apartment building near the corner of South Terry Avenue and West South Street, an area known for drug activity, according to WKMG Local 6. When officers arrived on the scene, they allegedly found Haywood in the process of swallowing the joint.
Haywood was booked Tuesday morning into the Orange County Jail on the charge of possession of cannabis under 20 grams, as well as tampering with physical evidence, according to the arrest report. He was released on bond and is currently awaiting trial.
The camera on South Terry Avenue is part of a city-wide initiative called I.R.I.S. (Innovative Response to Improve Safety) launched in 2008. According to the city's website, specially-trained police are able to monitor the cameras 24 hours a day from a command center.
“We are entering a new era of community policing– an era in which the power of pixels can make us a safer city,” Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said, according to website.
While the cameras have been used to double-check footage after a crime was reported, Local 6 reporter Nick VinZant said he had not heard of a case where an officer witnessed a crime in progress and moved to arrest the suspect red-handed.
Cameras that specifically monitor criminal behavior on the streets were the subject of a four-year study released by the Urban Institute's Justice Policy Center in 2011, the Baltimore Sun reports. Focusing on pilot programs in Baltimore, Chicago and Washington D.C., the study found that the added surveillance did decrease crime in Baltimore and Chicago.
One Wisconsin police chief is so happy with the cameras' success that he's trying to add more to the street.
Madison Police Chief Noble Wray told the Wisconsin State Journal that while the city already is outfitted with 118 cameras, "We need to have more," he said.