Vallejo hopes new cameras will curb crime

June 6, 2011 8:43:57 PM PDT
Criminals in Vallejo now have another set of eyes watching them. The city's cash-strapped police department is turning to the next generation of crime cameras in hopes of keeping a lid on prostitution and violence there.

In the seven years since Yvonne Jacobs opened her restaurant in downtown Vallejo she has watched the neighborhood slowly go downhill.

"Selling drugs, smoking dope, everything," Jacobs said.

George Haith is no stranger to what's become of downtown Vallejo.

"Muggings, shootings, gang, gangbangers going against each other, you know, it's all here," Haith said.

But now, there's something new hanging above downtown -- a police camera. With its flashing blue light and gold police star, it's hard to miss.

"If the cameras are there it's going to deter crime just by the presence of the cameras," Vallejo Police Sgt. Jeff Bassett said.

That's the hope of Vallejo police, who have watched street crimes like prostitution spiral out of control since the city went bankrupt two years ago.

Police say the cameras will help them make the most of their limited resources.

Catching crime on video is nothing new for Bay Area cities, but think of these as crime camera 2.0. They're fully wireless, so if the crime moves, city workers can just move the camera to follow it. And police officers equipped with one of these wireless modems can watch streaming video from the cameras while they sit in their patrol cars.

With remote-controlled telephoto lenses, night vision and months of storage capacity, cameras like these have raised privacy concerns in the past, but not among people who spoke with ABC7 on Monday.

"I think it's a good thing; anything to help us downtown to stop some of the crime, because the police force is already cut back, we need something," Jacobs said.

Other business owners agree. They've donated enough money for police to buy two of the cameras and a third is on the way.

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