Security Camera Network for 3 Parks Approved by Anaheim City Council

Up to 30 video surveillance cameras are to be installed in three parks following community outrage over the shooting death of a 9-year-old girl two years ago.

ANAHEIM, Calif. – The Anaheim City Council unanimously approved a $460,000 expenditure on Tuesday (Sept. 13) to install up to 30 security cameras in three parks that would be monitored by the police department. The video surveillance system could be expanded in the future to a city-wide security monitoring network, according to the Orange County Register.

The shooting of a 9-year-old girl near Brookhurst Community Park two years ago, and the community outrage that followed, are the genesis of the surveillance plan by city administrators. Up to 10 security cameras each are planned to be installed at Maxwell Park, Twila Reid Park and Brookhurst Park.

Out of Anaheim’s 57 parks, those three on the west side had a combined 1,300 police service calls last year, including for homicide, robbery, narcotics and assault, Anaheim Deputy Chief Julian Harvey told the council.

“This capability will not only prevent many crimes from occurring, it will also prevent incidents from escalating through the surgical and timely deployment of resources,” Harvey said.

The newspaper reported that several residents urged the council to wait for more public input. Those who spoke at the council meeting called the plan Orwellian or “Big Brother” and said it was the first move toward living in a police state.

“Wiring for sound and surveillance and looking at what people are doing … that’s definitely a ‘1984’ thing,” Mark Richard Daniels said, referring to George Orwell’s book. “What’s next? Are there going to be drones wandering around the city watching us?”

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Anaheim joins a number of Orange County cities that have installed or plan to install surveillance cameras at local parks as a crime prevention tool. Santa Ana recently set aside money to put cameras to watch over some of its parks, according to the newspaper.

The council’s approval of the park cameras comes two years after 9-year-old Ximena Meza was fatally shot across the street from Brookhurst Park. She was hit by cross fire between two rival gangs. Two men were arrested for her death, the newspaper reported.

Leverage Information Systems will install the security cameras at the three parks early next year. More cameras could be installed at other parks in the near future. Police are considering using officers on light duty to remotely monitor the cameras. They will be able to talk over speakers to park visitors, Sgt. Daron Wyatt told the newspaper.

The City Council was also open to a future phase integrating into one monitoring network existing cameras at traffic lights, City Hall, Honda Center, Angel Stadium and other city-owned facilities.

A third phase could have police reaching out to local businesses and schools that have surveillance systems if they would like to make their video feeds accessible to law enforcement personnel, Wyatt said. He said business participation would be voluntary.

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