Drug dealers and other criminals beware.
Someone is watching you if you decide to ply your trade at Library Park or Wilson Park behind the Post Office in downtown Manteca.
Actually, no one is watching per se, but law enforcement now has the ability to be significantly more successful going after criminals and seeing them prosecuted.
The Manteca Police now have video surveillance cameras in both locations.
“We are not going to have someone looking at the footage all the time,” Manteca Police Chief Jodie Estarziau told the Manteca City Council Tuesday night.
The police chief said it will allow police to go back and review video after crimes have been committed and reported. It also will allow dispatch when they get a call of a crime in progress at either location to go to screens and direct officers to specific locations with details of what to look for in terms of suspects.
Estarziau related how the installation of a camera at the skate park nearly 15 years ago was effective at directing officers to where suspects, if they were still on the scene, had hidden contraband. It also gave them footage to review after criminal activity was reported to identify culprits that allowed follow-up investigations that ended up with arrests most of the time.
Police credited the camera a month or so after it was installed with helping them eliminate most criminal activity in and around the skate park.
The camera installation finally implements a promise made almost a decade ago to place surveillance cameras at Library Park. The council had adopted the request of the police at the time to budget for cameras for both Library Park and Southside Park, a park just south of downtown. The city, however, ran into storage issues given the state requires all public recordings to be held for at least a year. Changes in technology have eliminated that issue.
Estarziau went with a vendor that is allowing the city to use the cameras on a test basis. She has noted that allows the department to see if the video set up works effectively for them before committing tax dollars.
If the surveillance cameras prove effective the city will retain them for the two parks plus look at other possible locations that’s could be used.
The cameras are part of a strategy to keep problems at a minimum in and around Library Park to allow families and other users feel safe using the area.
The city has already made strides in a number of areas including quality of life issues involving the homeless.
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