Video Surveillance Cameras to Encircle New Downtown Sacramento Arena

The city of Sacramento will install 20 security cameras near the new Golden 1 Center arena.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – As this city prepares to hold a grand opening ceremony for a new downtown arena in October, 20 video surveillance cameras are being installed in the next month at key intersections and at parking garages.

The Golden 1 Center will bring in thousands of nightly visitors to the area and police want
arena-goers and other downtown denizens to know it will become much harder to behave boorishly or illegally and get away with it, reports the Sacramento Bee.

Referred to as Police Observation Devices (PODs), the security cameras will be monitored during major-event nights from a command center a mile away. The goal, police told the Bee, is to control crowds and make the downtown experience safe and sane for visitors, some of whom have expressed concerns about nighttime safety in the urban core.

The camera boxes, strapped to light poles at intersections, are easy to spot. Each has a distinctive blue light and the word “police” stamped on the front.

“We want everyone within eyesight to know they are being filmed,” Deputy Police Chief Ken Bernard said. With 17,000 people at the arena, he said, it is going to be important that folks have a sense of police presence all the way to their car, light rail or bike valet.

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“The overarching goal for the city is that people feel comfortable before and after an event,” Bernard said.

The newspaper reports that police also plan to have squadrons of officers on the streets during major events, including officers on foot, bikes, horses and motorcycles and in patrol cars. The Sacramento Kings will pay for a portion of those extra officers under an agreement with the city.

The street cameras are not new. Sacramento launched its intersection-camera program two years ago with a handful of PODs rotating from intersection to intersection, according to the Bee. It has 33 of them up at large intersections around the city.

Many of those PODs do double duty. They have cameras that record what happens in the intersection, as well as a device that captures images of license plates of passing vehicles and sends the plate numbers to a database that police can search by time, date and location. Officers in patrol cars have access to the database via their in-car computers.

Police spokesman Matt McPhail told the Bee the PODs have helped them track down hundreds of stolen vehicles in two years. Data from a POD in north Sacramento helped the investigation last year into the shooting death of 17-year-old Grant Union High School football player Jaulon “J.J.” Clavo.

Investigators recently used information from a POD to make an arrest in a sex-trafficking crime. The victim told police the time and place of the crime, and gave a description of a vehicle, but not the license-plate number, McPhail said. Detectives reviewed video from nearby PODs and got the license plate of a car matching the description. Another POD then spotted the car and notified police, allowing officers to pull the driver over.

The PODs are built in-house by Sacramento police. The ones with cameras and license-plate readers cost $11,000. The ones with only cameras cost a few thousand dollars. The 20 new street and garage PODs will not be incorporated with license-plate readers.

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