Manteca Councilman Gary Singh knows firsthand how effective video surveillance footage can be as a law enforcement tool.
It was Singh who — within hours of a 71-year-old man being viciously attacked last month while walking at Greystone Park – scoured nearby homes for surveillance videos that he presented to Manteca Police. Within two days thanks to the public looking at footage posted by the department two arrests were made in the attack.
It is why Singh is pleased that Manteca is now on the verge of finally rolling out the initial phase of a citywide camera surveillance system. And while Manteca has lacked what some nearby cities have, Singh believes the fact the system the city is going with is mobile relying on solar power panels and Wi-Fi to transmit signals meaning they can easily be relocated to various hotspots plus the city is buying cutting edge software for reviewing footage means Manteca will be able to rapidly make up lost ground.
The City Council on Tuesday is being asked to approve a $347,891 contract with V5 Systems. It will include 30 cameras with solar or battery packs that can be moved throughout the community, additional cameras that will be used at the transit station and 11 bus shelters from federal money restricted for transit security, servers to store a year’s worth of footage, software to monitor the cameras, training, installation, and a two-year warranty.
The council meets at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.
Singh noted it is a good start. He wants to see license plate readers and cameras as well eventually at every entrance to the city. Latest license plate reading technology is effective and relatively inexpensive. It would be used only to spot plates reported stolen or to find vehicles that are a subject of law enforcement searches such as the recent Amber Alert involving an abducted 6-year-old Modesto boy.
Law enforcement studies have shown for years that vehicles that are either stolen or have stolen license plates will almost always be used to commit another crime whether it is armed robbery, burglaries or other felonies.
Singh noted he doubted the individuals that backed up a vehicle to his family’s liquor store on East Yosemite Avenue earlier this year and tore off the front door to access an ATM machine used a vehicle that was theirs.
Such license plate readers will instantly alert law enforcement when a stolen vehicle, stolen plates, or a vehicle wanted in connection with a crime passes it.
“It will help make our police more proactive,” Singh said.
He noted the surveillance cameras per se won’t prevent crime nor will they always lead to arrests, but they can be effective with quick turn arounds of sharing footage with the public at solving more crimes that in turn would give Manteca a reputation of being a city you might want to avoid if you’re inclined to drive here and commit a criminal act.
Singh was pleased the city researched software he came across at a League of California Cities gathering that is capable of rapid scanning of video footage to look for specific objects such as white trucks.
That’s important not just because the video feeds won’t be monitored due to the extensive staffing that would take but also because it will significantly reduce the time needed to search footage.
Singh added that he hopes police will emphasize after each successful arrest made in part with surveillance footage that the video cameras played a role as a way to slowly get the word out that Manteca is a place you will be watched if you commit a crime.
The councilman added the fact the cameras are mobile means they can be moved to hotspots such as shopping centers experiencing vehicle burglaries during the holidays in areas where problems develop such as drug sales or other illegal activities.
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