Surveillance cameras requested for downtown Oceanside

Oceanside police have requested almost $500,000 to purchase and install a video surveillance system with 54 cameras covering the streets, alleys and intersections west of the downtown Civic Center.

The camera system will cover about a dozen blocks in the MainStreet Oceanside Property and Business Improvement District that the City Council approved in 2019, and a few outlying areas along North Coast Highway and at the beach.

“A majority of our cameras will cover virtually every intersection in the (district),” said Lt. Matt Cole in a recent presentation to the city’s Police and Fire Commission.

“It’s good quality, live video,” he said. “I can sit in my office, at my desktop, and monitor or look and review any camera that will be part of this project.”

Only public spaces will be monitored, and areas covered by the equipment will be Situs Slot Gacor identified with posted signs. The city’s policy is to delete the stored video after one year unless it’s needed for an investigation or a court case.

“It will not be monitored all the time,” Cole said. “It can be viewed live, and if we have a critical incident we certainly could log on.”

Statistical crime analysis and suggestions from downtown business people were used to decide the proposed placement of the cameras, Cole said. Some business owners have said they will allow the city to place cameras on their buildings or properties.

Video from the cameras is transmitted along line-of-sight, he said, so each camera must be placed within sight of another. The hub for all the cameras will be at City Hall.

Oceanside Councilman Ryan Keim, a former police officer and the City Council’s liaison with the police commission, said the city needs the surveillance cameras.

“Staffing is already an issue,” Keim said, and the city needs ways to provide the same or an improved level of service with fewer people.

“If we can make things safer and more efficient, that’s a good thing,” he said.

“Cameras can document a crime, and that’s important, but they also serve as a deterrent when people know they’re there,” Keim said.

The Police Department is recommending the city purchase the equipment from DiscoverIT Solutions, an Orange County-based company that already provides Oceanside with video surveillance at the Civic Center, the beach amphitheater and the pier.

The proposed purchase order with DiscoverIT includes hardware and sales tax costing $344,239.52 and labor for $152,815.35, for a total of $497,054.87. The City Council included the money in its June 3, 2020, budget for Measure X funds.

Oceanside voters approved Measure X on Nov. 6, 2018. The measure temporarily Judi Slot Online increases the city’s sales tax by 0.5 percent for seven years to help pay for city services such as public safety, street maintenance and other civic needs.

Members of the police commission had a few questions about the surveillance system, but unanimously recommended the City Council approve the purchase. The request is on the council’s June 2 consent calendar, a list of items normally approved in a single vote without comment unless someone requests a separate discussion.

Once approved, the cameras could be installed in a few months, Cole said.

Police and fire commissioners asked whether any of the cameras will be installed at the new resort hotels opening this summer near the pier, at the harbor or the downtown train station operated by North County Transit District.

“The train station already has a very robust camera system,” Cole said. “We have a good partnership with the transit center and can request their video.”

The city already has “half a dozen” cameras at the harbor, he said, and those cameras are on the same software system as the one being purchased for the new downtown cameras.

The new hotels will have their own video system and the police department hopes to work with them the way it works with the transit district.

Video surveillance has at times raised privacy issues, but the courts have generally upheld the use of cameras in public places and their presence is rapidly expanding.

Carlsbad has had automatic license-plate-reading cameras at 14 key intersections since 2017, and police there say the system has led to numerous arrests and helped recover hundreds of stolen cars.

The city of San Diego has installed more than 3,000 so-called Smart Streetlights, which contain cameras, microphones and sensors that collect a variety of information. Privacy concerns led the city to stop collecting some of the data last summer, but San Diego police continue to use the cameras for law enforcement activities.

Meanwhile, almost every police officer and sheriff’s deputy in San Diego County wears a body camera, nearly every private citizen carries a phone with a camera, and an increasing number of homes have outward-facing cameras on the front door.