San Leandro Moves Ahead With More Security Cameras; Hints At Limiting Data Retention


San Leandro City Council approved to move ahead with expanding its video surveillance system, however, with hesitation over the one-year retention period of information collected by the cameras. The council approved, 5-2, directing staff to formulate a plan for additional cameras at two undetermined location. Mayor Stephen Cassidy and Councilmember Ursula Reed both dissented.

The city currently maintains multiple cameras at City Hall, the Police Department, and red-light cameras at various intersections, but Police Chief Sandra Spagnoli wants to add cameras to two new locations with automated license plate readers (ALPR) as well as add additional ALPR’s to police vehicles. According to Spagnoli only one police car currently uses the device.

Spagnoli urged the council to act fast in approving installation of these new camera systems in order to avoid, what she claims, will be “displacement” of crime from Oakland to San Leandro. Oakland plans to implement their new surveillance program, the Domain Awareness Program (DAC) and over 150 cameras on city streets. “We have been stuck with the same staff for the past 30 years. This technology can help prosecution of criminals and it can enhance crime prevention,” Spagnoli told the council. “We have proved with our existing programs that cameras work in the city.”

However, despite Spagnoli’s push for these cameras, evidence of their effectiveness largely relied upon information from a police special interests group and the utilization of other similar systems in other cities. Spagnoli noted that Pittsburgh saw a dramatic reduction in crime after installing more security cameras with LPR’s in their city. She also referred to anecdotal evidence of criminals, violent and non-violent, that were caught after committing a crime because of security cameras. But, it was later noted by Councilmember Jim Prola that San Francisco did witness a reduction in property crime but that security cameras there did not have much effect on reducing violent crime. Spagnoli responded: “We rely on the experts in our field.”

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