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Manteca Police seek citywide camera system
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The effectiveness of surveillance video provided by Manteca residents and businesses to help law enforcement catch culprits responsible for pirating parcels from porches to arresting those responsible for armed robberies at convenience markets is prompting a push by Manteca Police to develop a citywide security camera system.
It was one of the department goals outlined by Police Chief Jodie Estarziau during the Manteca City Council’s recent mid-year budget review that also served as an update on priority projects various city departments plan to work on in the upcoming fiscal year starting July 1.
The police chief said the initial goal is to place 25 cameras throughout the city at parks, bus stops and key public places. It would also include a new camera at the skate park. The price tag for such an endeavor is expected to run as high as $500,000.
A trial use of a video security system relying on solar power and wireless connections has proven effective at helping police stay on top of a multitude of issues at Library and Wilson parks in downtown Manteca. The cameras — along with targeted enforcement plus the department’s community resource office homeless outreach effort — has helped reduce drug dealing and other issues such as misdemeanor quality of life crimes committed by the homeless. As a result crime at the two parks have dropped significantly prompting more families and others to start using the parks again
Camera systems had been authorized by city councils in past years only to be stalled by storage issues and costs.
Not only have the costs gone down but strides in technology have made cameras even better with much more clearer images. The city also believes they can meet state laws that consider such camera recordings to be a public record that must be retained for at least a year.
Such a citywide system would dovetail into the Manteca Police Department’s Camera Registry Network that was rolled out a year ago this month with the help of the city’s Information & Technology staff.
Residents can register their surveillance cameras via the city’s secured website.
Then when a crime occurs officers can access a data base that will pop up information on where cameras may be located that will help them with their follow up investigations in a bid to find the responsible parties that committee crimes.
Officers have to do a time consuming door-to-door canvas to try and locate people who may have video surveillance footage that may be of help. With the registry network they are able to know where to go to make inquiries about whether the private video systems captured footage associated with the incident they are investigating. If any video evidence is found, the resident or business owner can make arrangements with the officer so they can retrieve the video.
The time it saves can be significant. That would allow possible faster conclusions to cases and free up officers and support personnel to tackle additional crime issues.
There are a few basic questions found on the registration form at www.ci.manteca.ca.us/Police/CRN. It includes basic contact information and nearest cross street.
There are 13 boxes to check or not regarding camera systems. They touch on specifications such as definition or standard definition, color or black and white and what views the camera captures such as front, rear, side views or adjacent streets and parking areas.
The police chief has noted numerous times in the past year that video footage the department has obtained from citizens has helped solve crimes and are an important tool in the investigation process.
At the same time home security systems such as those tied to a smartphone app that alerts homeowners or business owners of suspicious activity when they are away have been used in the past to direct police officers to burglaries in progress that have ended with arrests.
While that is separate from the registry program, working with residents for them to put in place systems measures that make their homes safer is part of what the department’s overall goals.
The following is a short Q&A about the Camera Registry Network:
uIs a high definition or certain camera system required to be part of the Camera Registry Network?
No, but the higher the resolution is better. High definition does provide a better quality video.
uWill the police department inspect my camera system?
No, the Manteca Police Department will not contact you unless your video cameras may have recorded something related to an incident they are investigating.
uHow long am I required to be part of the Camera Registry Network once I register?
There is no requirement to remain in the Camera Registry Network. You can choose to remove your information at any time.
uWho will have access to my information once I am registered?
Your information will remain confidential and only officers of the Manteca Police Department will have access.
As for tips about camera systems and where to place them, Manteca Police note the following:
uImportant Camera Features: IP is preferred over analog. Higher resolution yields better image. Thirty day storage is recommended. Consider lighting when placing cameras.
uCamera location and orientation, residential: At least one pointing toward the street. Front porch. Side gate. Rear door/yard.
uCamera location and orientation, business: All entrance/exit points. Front desk to include cashier positions as well as the corners of the building to help capture parking lots/driveways. Cameras at the rear of buildings will help capture loading area/parking lots. Consider lighting when placing cameras. Consider obstructions

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com