Why can’t we get decent surveillance camera images?

All right, I can’t keep quiet about this any more!

Why are surveillance camera images – video and stills – so crappy? Why?

Once again last week we got a surveillance camera image sent around by the RCMP depicting a suspect in a robbery committed at knifepoint at the Dogwood 7-11. The poor convenience clerk underwent the trauma of an armed robbery and all we can tell about the suspect from the circulated image is that it was a human wearing a green top of some kind and of a baseball hat thingy on its head.

Is that the best picture we can get? I find that really hard to believe. This is nothing against the RCMP, they didn’t install the camera. That’s up to the store and its head office.

In this day and age of motion-activated trail cameras showing crystal clear images of cougars passing by and bears frolicking in the bush hundreds of miles out in the wilderness, why can’t we get a decent image of a robbery suspect?

The pictures are so grainy and unfocused. The detail is so non-existent you can’t make out a human face. The image circulated last week even looks like it was so coated with grime and sludge on the outer edge of the lens that you wouldn’t have been able to make out any kind of detail anyway. That’s important because the suspect was almost off the edge of the camera frame. Two more feet closer to the chips and chocolate bars aisle and he or she wouldn’t have even been in the shot.

And why do they place these cameras in the junction between the back wall and the ceiling? The angle is so high you can’t make out a face.

And thieves know this. They were ball caps, sunglasses and hoodies because the cap peak will cover their face from such a high-angled camera (besides being so grainy and out-of-focus)!

Why is the camera not set at eye level of the average human being? Then the camera will get a good look at their face and then maybe we’ll be able to recognize somebody?

And focus the damn picture! Use a camera that has a high enough resolution that it can capture the image clearly. It doesn’t take much.

The reason, of course, is that it would cost too much to install decent cameras in all their stores.

But really? Is it really that much?

Maybe they could save money on insurance costs because decent cameras might result in such a higher arrest rate that it will serve as an effective deterrent to committing the robberies.

One of our resident ink-stained wretches in the Mirror editorial department suggested that the RCMP should refuse to attend a robbery at a store that hasn’t installed a decent surveillance camera. Why waste their time?

“Oh, look, here’s a fuzzy, out-of-focus, image taken with a Fisher-Price kids-toy-camera-quality imaging device, let’s circulate it to the media and see if the public can identify anybody in the picture,” said nobody EVER!

You ever hear of a GoPro? They’re small, you could stick it on the back wall, it won’t take up much space and the image quality is spectacular – 4K, if you wanted.

GoPro even puts out a version called a Session. It’s like 1.5 inches by 1.5 inches by 1.5 inches. You could clip it to the store clerk’s jacket and record everything in front of him or her in stunning HD clarity. Of course, I wouldn’t recommend that because it places the clerk in some danger but the point is, unobtrusive cameras are available and the quality of image is perfect.

But for some reason, we can capture on camera an elusive wolf in the darkest depths of the rainforest or a secretive snow leopard in the Himalayan mountains but we can’t see the face of a robbery suspect shot in a convenience store on the next block!

Come on, this is ridiculous. Spring for a better camera and let’s protect our late night store staff and help the police arrest these people.

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