Mayor Schaaf writes letter to state asking for cameras on Oakland highways

ByRyan Curry KGO logo
Wednesday, December 15, 2021
Oakland mayor writes letter to state asking for freeway cameras
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf wrote a letter Tuesday to Governor Gavin Newsom asking for more resources to combat crime in the city.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf wrote a letter Tuesday to Governor Gavin Newsom asking for more resources to combat crime in the city. In her letter she wants the state of California to provide more license plate readers and surveillance cameras on freeways around Oakland to look for cars involved in violent crime.

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"We are asking that the State of California place more cameras and license plate readers on our highways, our on and off-ramps, our freeways," she said.

Oakland has seen a large increase in violence this year. 131 people have died in homicides, including Jasper Wu, a toddler who was struck by a stray bullet while in the backseat of his parents car. They were driving on 880.

Mayor Schaaf says freeways surrounding Oakland have frequently been used for criminals to escape. She says if the state provided better technology on the freeways, law enforcement agencies can help identify vehicles used in these crimes.

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The freeway shooting death of 23-month-old Jasper Wu has resurfaced the conversation about adding more surveillance cameras to Bay Area freeways.

"We are seeing coordinated criminal activity that is regional in nature," she said. "We need a state tool to manage it, and be able to respond in real time."

However, privacy advocates fear this will do more harm than good. Adam Schwartz with the Electronic Frontier Foundation says this type of technology completely invades the privacy of the public.

Plus, he says it could lead to issues where people are falsely accused of crimes.

"They can invade privacy by tracking where we are going and when we are there," Schwartz said. "They lead to police aiming guns because of mistaken identification, and too often they are placed in areas where more Black people and immigrants drive."

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Mayor Schaaf says the police department is understaffed, and getting the technology can help.

It is not just the homicides, but also the organized retail thefts and sideshows. She says adding license plate readers can help with those as well.

"We also want to be more coordinated in these caravans that are certainly using our state's highways to do coordinated criminal attacks," Schaaf said.