Cameras to be installed at transit center
by Joel Danoy
Jul 05, 2013 | 3573 views | 9 9 comments | 77 77 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Tracy City Council unanimously approved a $142,173 bid on Tuesday, July 2, for the installation of surveillance cameras at the Tracy Transit Station — initiating a discussion about city officials monitoring residents with such technology.

Bockmon & Woody Electric of Stockton was chosen from three bidders to install the cameras, which, according to city staff, will monitor the inside of the station at Sixth Street and Central Avenue, the area of the adjacent Downtown Plaza and the transit station parking lot.

The cameras are needed to deter vandalism and criminal mischief, because inadequate staffing and the size of the property make such activities difficult to track, according to city engineer Kuldeep Sharma.

Recent problems at the station include the illegal engraving of glass windows and the theft of brass and copper drain spouts.

The cameras will include video and audio capabilities and have a one-year warranty.

Councilman Robert Rickman said he agreed with this project because it’s confined to city property; however, he would look closely at any cameras proposed for other sites in the city.

“I know that there are no expectations of privacy in a public place,” Rickman said. “But I just want you to know where I sit on privacy or freedom. I’d rather err on too much freedom than not enough.”

Mayor Pro Tem Michael Maciel, who retired from the Tracy Police Department as a captain, said he is a “big proponent of cameras,” because “they are proven to be a great crime-fighting tool.”

“I think they are a great tool for crime prevention, and not only do I support cameras in the transit station and other city facilities, should funding become available, but I would welcome the opportunity to review any proposals that would expand that to general public areas.”

Rickman, who is a sergeant with the California Highway Patrol, cited a 2011 U.S. Department of Justice finding that public cameras lowered crime in Baltimore by 38 percent but “had almost no effect” in Washington, D.C.

“So, cameras in it of themselves, depending on the area, it could be a deterrent or it may not,” he said.

Cameras are already installed on city-owned Tracer buses, and the footage is viewed only when an incident is reported, according to Ed Lovell, who works with the Parks Community Division overseeing the transit station.

Tracy Police Department Chief Gary Hampton said video and audio cameras can be used as surveillance tools to actively monitor public areas or to track traffic flow through intersections, which helps city engineers adjust traffic light patterns.

Cameras in the police department’s headquarters are all being converted to record and store footage, Hampton said. He also noted that the only public cameras that city police monitor are in Gretchen Talley Park.

“We monitor that as necessary, and the council expressed their concern years ago about having a park monitored by government officials,” he said. “So when we monitor that, it’s as needed based upon the crime trends and events (at the park).”

Footage from Tracer buses is reviewed only by Lovell, and it’s only accessible for about a month before it is automatically erased from a city server. The same procedure will hold true for cameras at the transit station.

“It’s not just going to be open access to anybody to come take a look at it or even access it to take the recordings off of that hard drive,” Lovell said.

City attorney Daniel Sodergren said the city has no standard operating procedures for who has access to bus footage or how those recordings can be saved and distributed.

He noted that all recordings are available to the public through a public records act request.

The council’s vote also authorized $50,000 to be used from the transit capital fund to supplement the remaining price of the cameras.

• Contact Joel Danoy at 830-4229 or jdanoy@tracypress.com.
Comments
(9)
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walkingtall
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July 10, 2013
Talked with a buddy of mine who is in the security business and we drove past the Transit station and he took a look at it. He tells me he cannot imagine what they could be putting in there equipment wise that would cost that kind of money! My guess is the company that won the contract is a cousin,uncle,nephew or a good friend of the Mayors, or the city council, or someone that works for the city. This is generally how it goes. Friends taking care of friends! Business as usual here in Tracy!
ChrisRoberts
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July 09, 2013
It would make more sense to put those cameras on intersections where banks are located.

Given the 50-100 bank robberies that happen here in town every year.
mthouseman
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July 10, 2013
Chris...since they don't have a comics page in the paper, I enjoy reading your posts, but 50-100 each year???

That would be 1-2 each week. No way your numbers are anywhere close to being correct.
mdsmith17
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July 10, 2013
First of all banks already have very good camera systems, and second of all there are no where near 50 to 100 bank robberies in this town a year.
me-here
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July 07, 2013
While on the subject of the Transit Station, I wonder why all the massive street scape beautification and wasted space in front of the 6th street businesses that could be used to encourage parking and customers for those businesses. The Transit has enough parking areas around the building. 6th street parking is too limited.
tracyschooldist
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July 07, 2013
ooooooooo scary 1 year warranty!!!! For that price it should have a lifetime warranty.. So how many camera's are being put up? That is a small place so I think the price is outrageous. Is someone going to monitor the camera's? Or is the city just going to loop the camera? If no one is monitoring then when something does happen it will be too late to do anything about it. The building has been there for a year or two with apparently no problems. Sounds like the city just wanted to do some early Christmas spending ooopppssss shopping..
yepper
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July 05, 2013
And yet ANOTHER City of Tracy "BOONDOGGLE" ...... This rates right up there with the "Auto Mall" sign on the 205 freeway! If the Transit Station was 'busy' , you wouldn't have to worry about installing a $142,173 surveillance camera system! What a joke! ..........
ChrisRoberts
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July 09, 2013
Yep, someones developer buddy made a nice hunk of cash making the transit center we supposedly need.

Who developed the transit center again. HMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM
walkingtall
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July 05, 2013
Oh, I bet Mike Maciel likes cameras and would be happy to support more cameras in public places. Oh Mike, did you forget to tell people about the "LPR" Cameras. Oh, what does the city do with that information? Yes folks, like most cities, when you go through selected intersections they are capturing your license plate and storing location data based on that license plate number. Also the same technology is used in patrol vehicles. See vigilantsolutions.com. While this technology has a useful side, it as well has some potential for abuse as well.


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