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‘Mini grants’ for video surveillance to get around costly state rule?

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POSTED May 15, 2012 2:01 a.m.

Manteca wants to put a high speed fiber optic system in place to provide security and other uses at municipal facilities including bus stops.

Helping to balloon the price tag to $1.1 million is a state requirement than any recording of images be saved for a year as they are considered part of the public record. The potential of having dozens upon dozens of cameras that would need a server large enough to store all of the images for a year is a budget buster.

Mayor Willie Weatherford, though, thinks he has a way around it.

He believes the city should explore giving businesses and other property owners near city sites “small grants” to buy such video surveillance equipment. They would be installed in such a manner as to cover the private property as well as the city property. There could be a requirement for a week’s storage of images. That would allow for police to check video - just as they do now with private security cameras - whenever a nearby crime occurs.

The state law originally was intended to apply to government meetings that are videotaped. As technology evolved, the law remained the same. The city could install the cameras in the same manner as they did at the skate park. It does not record images but simply feeds video back to the police dispatch center. Similar security cameras are at the Civic Center. The cameras are monitored in the police dispatch center.

That, however, would make them ineffective as a crime fighting tool.

Manteca within the next 14 months is expected to bury roughly a mile of fiber optic cable between the Civic Center at 1001 W. Street and the transit station being built at Moffat Boulevard and South Main Street. The fiber optic link would provide the high-speed backbone for data, telephone, and video conferencing between city facilities. Staff indicated that current wireless links are vulnerable to outage and do not carry enough bandwidth to support future applications.

Surveillance video is considered an effective way to identify those who commit crimes by providing the evidence to convict them.

The fiber-optic backbone could be used to place cameras at Southside and Library parks as well as along downtown streets.

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