Tuesday, August 14 , 2018, 12:38 am | Overcast 67º


Local News

Santa Maria Poised to Purchase More Video Surveilance Cameras

The Santa Maria Police Department’s supply of video surveillance cameras is about to expand, helping widen the eyes monitoring the city.

The City Council on Tuesday night approved the purchase of 10 public-safety cameras for $90,000, among other budget amendments.

The funding will come from salary savings due to vacant Police Department positions — including a police commander, a lieutenant and other slots, city officials said.

“Does that mean that we have less officers on the street? No,” said City Manager Rick Haydon. 

He reassured the council the patrol shifts remain fully staffed.

The salary savings would be allocated for the purchase of the video surveillance camera systems on a one-time basis, he added.

Santa Maria police already have installed five camera pods — each with four cameras — positioned around the city monitoring key areas in a pilot project.

The city’s Recreation and Parks Department will also have three cameras in place.

Police Chief Ralph Martin said the cameras already have helped officers nab suspects, including a person sought for setting fire to a vehicle.

Another camera placed near businesses had led to a decrease in illegal activity, Martin said a business representative told him.

“It’s a great tool,” Martin said.

A spike in homicides and other violence in the city makes the acquisition especially timely. 

The city will seeks bids for the equipment, he added.

Prior to last year, Santa Maria was among the cities that had not yet installed video surveillance cameras,, Martin said. 

“It’s just something that’s been on our list to get done,” he added.

The pod systems will be placed at special hot spots around the city.

His officers would not monitor the cameras constantly, but could download the content as required for a specific crime or traffic incident.

“Nothing becomes evidence until we download it,” he added.

The existing video surveillance pods  have four cameras each, and those could easily be relocated around the city as needed, with brackets remaining on poles.

In addition to the pods, blue-and-white signs are posted within the area, advising people that the video surveillance system is in place. Signs say, "Notice. You are entering a 24-hour video surveillance area. Operation Blue Watch.”

A similar system is crediting with solving the Boston Marathon bombings, the chief noted. 

Among other budget amendments, the council approved $300,000 to fund Dispatch Center equipment. Due to the high call volume, the Governor's Office of Emergency Services revised the funding to give Santa Maria two additional 9-1-1 console position.

The funding will help pay for furniture, computers and other equipment for the new positions.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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