Posted by Anne, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Feb 18, 2012 at 11:28 am
Good work PA police and the alert neighbor who called them. This is a neighborhood with hundreds of people flowing thru it daily, on their way downtown, to Facebook, etc. Strangers are the norm around here, and it is easy to become unwilling to speak up when something is odd, as one is not sure who belongs and who doesn't. I support the call for surveillance cameras downtown and as part of a home protection system. The police can't be everywhere at once, and we need to combine our efforts to change the perception that Palo Alto is 'easy pickings' as evidenced by the armed robbery last week on Walter Hays Dr. If we don't take our own security seriously, who will?
Posted by JustMe, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Feb 21, 2012 at 9:45 am
While I support the use of video surveylance cameras in principle, I am opposed to assigning the task to the city government. First, it is going to take a lot to get them to move and allocate money for the job, there will be a huge amount of inertia there. Then there will have to be studies and committees and reccomendations and review panels, all of which will consume time and money, making the actual cost of the cameras look small. Then they will hire workers at high wages to actually install them and hire a contractor to maintain them.
Don't forget that there will need to be agreements and contracts (and fees) for anyone allowing a camera or server to be installed on/in their building, and lawyers paid to negotiate those contracts.
Then they will have to hire a staff, with managers and support staff to actually check the data from them, with great city benefits and full-salary pension retirement at taxpayer expense after a few short years of work.
Then the lawyers will swoop in on the "big brother" government and legal issues surrounding the surveylance of citizens. I would expect a legal free-for-all with money flying all over and that in the end the whole thing would be deemed illegal because it is done by the government.
Lastly, the recent crimes have not been committed anywhere near the downtown area, so cameras downtown would have been useless.
There are no legal or privacy issues for private citizens and/or business owners to put up cameras on their own property to monitor the surrounding open area, yards, sidewalks, streets, alleys, etc. Systems are not all that expensive or difficult to set up, unless you let the government do it. Once set up they can collect a month or more of video data from multiple cameras (we have a 9-camera system that works great) and the new data over-writes the oldest data in a circular buffer. You never really need to look at it unless something happens that you want to check out. Then it is easy to search back through the video, all time-stamped, and shoot a DVD of the sots of interest, and submit them to the police. Since it is all done by private citizens on their own property there are no vulture-lawyers waiting to swoop.
I would love to see a small company start up that will install and maintain these systems on private homes and assist with the collection of data from them if needed. With a service like that operating at reasonable costs I would bet we would have a lot more systems watching our homes.
Posted by 30 Year Resident, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Feb 22, 2012 at 5:11 pm
Excellent work by our PA Police Department! Our neighborhood had not had any reported robberies or break-ins for many years, but in the last 90 days we have had two residential burgleries and a third attempt was stopped only because the homeowner had gotten up in the middle of the night to get a drink of water in the kitchen. We don't know if this group was responsible for the crimes in our area; however, either 2 or 3 young men in hoodies were involved in all three efforts. Our neighbors are now paying much more attention to who is in the neighborhood, and if someone is traveling we watch their house. I suppose that is now life even in Palo Alto and Menlo Park. We really appreciate the work of the Officers on this case.