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Keeping eye on hot spots
Cameras could be effective way to fight Manteca crime
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Surveillance cameras being deployed in the coming weeks could change the dynamics of how Manteca Police eventually deal with hot spots for crime.

The cameras being installed at Library Park as well as Wilson Park behind the Post Office are not tethered by wire transmissions. Instead they rely on satellite technology to transmit images. That means they are portable and could fairly easily be relocated by municipal staff.

And while the cameras being placed at the two parks won’t be monitored per se, they could be in specific situations as well as at other locations.

That opens the possibility that officers on a short term basis during investigations could place a camera in a temporary location based on where tips they’ve assembled have indicated there might be ongoing crime such as drug dealing occurring at certain times of the day in a neighborhood park.  The camera images could be monitored remotely either at the dispatch center, a laptop in a patrol unit, or even a department issued smartphone.

It is just one possibility Police Chief Jodie Estarziau and department staff may explore in a bid to maximize tax dollars.

Initially the firm the city is working with will allow the police to try the system at no charge before deciding whether to invest tax dollars.

The cameras for the most part will provide a surveillance function instead of being used in an active crime investigation.

The police chief noted that the feed into dispatch would not have a dispatcher dedicated to monitoring the screens given the department lacks the manpower. Instead, if the police receive a call from a citizen about suspicious activity, dispatch can check the video feed and assess the situation.

That way an officer could see exactly what the suspects look like that they are looking for instead of a general description such as a white male of average built in their 30s.

If the suspicious activity warrants sending an officer, dispatch can provide real time information while police are in transit.

Estarziau noted such an approach with surveillance cameras worked effectively at combatting crime issues at the skate park that the city tucked far away from a street where it could not be easily observed.

Police officers would also be able to go back to footage to investigate crimes that weren’t reported when they occurred.

Making sure the police department has a camera system that they can deploy as effectively as possible is paramount to Estarziau who wants to make sure the city’s limited funds get the most bang for the buck in fighting crime to leverage available manpower.

 Library and Wilson parks were picked as the first two locations for surveillance cameras in a bid to address issues the public has voiced over the years regarding illegal activity such as drug sales and quality of life crimes that have prompted some law-abiding citizens to stay away from the parks.

While there has been a marked improvement, the police are attempting to make sure gains aren’t lost.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email