February 23, 2011 12:10:00 PM
As the weather turns warmer, more of us are getting outside. Those of us shaking off the cobwebs of winter and taking in some exercise along the Riverwalk have noticed more than the signs of spring emerging.
They''re noticing other signs: Namely, the ones warning them that they''re being watched.
The city is placing around a dozen surveillance cameras along the walkway. The signs and the cameras are designed to end vandalism along the 2 1/2-mile walkway, and deter other, more serious crime from happening. The camera scheme was hatched after graffiti was spotted on the walkway last year.
The episode sparked Operation Ghille Storm. Three juveniles were eventually arrested last year by policemen, working on overtime, hiding along the Riverwalk in sniper-style camouflage.
We''re still not sure if that sting, and the $18,000 investment in cameras, is a wise expense to combat teens and misdemeanors. A poll we conducted online last year found most were overwhelmingly in favor of the cameras, which like those officers hiding in Ghille suits, are hidden from view.
We do know that the Riverwalk is one of Columbus'' brightest gems, and it would certainly be a shame if anyone ever felt unsafe there. (If you haven''t yet taken a stroll or a bike ride down the Riverwalk, we urge you to get out there. It''s nice.)
And, we understand the cameras wouldn''t be much of a deterrent if would-be vandals didn''t know they were there. Hence the signs, which warn Big Brother is watching.
But some of us enjoying a walk through nature find the signs jarring, and we agree that they are. It''s a shame that we need cameras, and warning signs, marring the view and adding a large dose of negativity to what should be a relaxing walk in the woods.
We can argue that the police response is overkill. But they''re only responding to the actions of vandals, and other bad actors.
These cameras and signs are, sadly, a sign of the times.