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Coming to a park near you
Manteca moving toward 24/7 video surveillance
Surveillance cameras could one day monitor downtown Manteca for public safety. - photo by HIME ROMERO
Try to break into the new animal shelter to “free” a dog that the city impounded and you will end up being electronically recorded in high enough resolution footage that the odds are great you’ll get arrested eventually.

Gang members - and other criminals who have had their dogs impounded - have broken into the existing animal shelter in past years to retrieve their animals.

It is why the city is including the animal shelter as part of a major fiber optic backbone that will run from the Civic Center down Center Street to Main Street and ultimately to the new transit center being built on the southeast corner of Moffat Boulevard and South Main Street.

It will then employ wireless technology to allow future uses such as possible cameras on the street throughout downtown and at selected bus stops throughout Manteca as well as other parks.

The city has wedded federal stimulus funds and other grants for video surveillance with each other to design the system.

They had hoped to roll out park surveillance cameras at Southside and Library parks quicker, but after researching found if they combined systems and put a bit more money and time upfront they would have enormous expansion capabilities.

They city is currently working on securing a computer with enough storage to keep all 24/7 video recording of every camera on file for a year as required by state law.

“That’s a lot of footage,” noted Assistant City Manager Karen McLaughlin.

The two parks were selected to address safety concerns – perceived and otherwise. Library Park has a lot of people who use it in addition to homeless and sometimes the criminal element. Keeping Southside Park free of gang problems and drunks has been a goal of the police. They have met with success but agree they can be more effective if they are able to keep a closer eye on things. Dispatch center staff would monitor images of the parks and other locations.

In the past, Police Chief Dave Bricker has indicated if the city can pursue a system similar to the one that Ripon has and use wireless technology to monitor “the 12 major access points” to the city complete with remote videos in patrol units that it would effectively stretch manpower.

A similar system in Ripon has allowed police to receive a live streaming of a bank robbery in progress and then once the criminals were in the street  to watch them as they entered a vehicle and drove off to trying to exit town. The robbers were arrested within minutes.

While the system that is now being pursued in itself will not allow that to happen, it is part of an effort to use technology as much as possible to enhance public safety manpower effectives and to increase safely in parks and streets.

The city already has an older generation video surveillance camera at the skate park.