Smile! You're on candid surveillance camera

SPOKANE, Wash. - No matter where you are in Downtown Spokane you can expect that you're on camera.

Surveillance cameras are all around the downtown core and with a combination of city, police and privately owned cameras, Sergeant Dan Waters estimates there are hundreds of cameras rolling at any given time.

This gives the Spokane Police Department an advantage when trying to catch a criminal in the act.

Candid Camera

If it wasn't for surveillance back in 2009, police might not have caught the man who slammed a little dog into the concrete outside of City Hall.

In most recent memory, Pullman Police used multiple surveillance cameras to find four suspects involved in the beating of a Washington State University instructor.

Surveillance is also how the FBI pinpointed two suspects in the Boston bombings within days of the explosions.

"We have a society where it's real easy to just record everything instantly," Waters said. "Businesses are great about saying 'we have our video, here is the whole incident on video' I mean you'd be shocked, it's very common every day."

Waters said officers use surveillance video every day while doing their jobs – in small cases and in big investigations.

"Civilian video, business video, all that stuff, our own video, so very vital to what we do at times, it can break a case, help us ID people, literally the evidence can sometimes be right there on camera so it's an invaluable tool for us," Waters said.

Being on camera all the time raises the question of if it's legal. The Supreme Court ruled that there should be no expectation of privacy when you're in a public space. The only exception to this, in regards to cameras, are red light cameras, which can only be used to issue traffic citations.