Mayor: City needs more security cameras

Mayor Gavin Newsom is expected to announce today that there is now more money available to purchase additional security cameras as The City struggles to curb violent crimes.

Last year, The City installed its first security surveillance cameras and to date has 33 cameras monitoring 14 locations in some of San Francisco’s high-crime neighborhoods.

Another 22 cameras are in the pipeline to be placed in yet-to-be-determined locations.

This year’s budget allocated about $270,000 for these new cameras.

Following a news conference Thursday, Newsom said he would announce today “an augmentation in our budget for more security cameras.”

For some city supervisors, the news was welcomed.

“I would like to see [a camera] in Diamond Heights right now,” Supervisor Bevan Dufty said, adding that residents along Addison Street are asking for the cameras.

“Until such a time when we can make every neighborhood safe, we have to use [cameras],” Dufty said.

Supervisor Jake McGoldrick, who is one of the biggest critics of the cameras, said he was saddened by the news, calling it a “case of mistaken strategy.” McGoldrick said the cameras are ineffective and the money should go instead toward community policing programs. He also said the cameras infringe on civil liberties. McGoldrick had unsuccessfully tried to kill the funding for the 22 additional cameras during a Board of Supervisors budget hearing.

Allen Nance, acting director of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, said crime activity exists in certain geographic locations in The City, and if cameras cover all these areas then the criminals “just don’t have anywhere to go.”

Instead, he said, they will either stop the crimes “or move on to someplace else” other than San Francisco.

The Police Commission will ultimately determine the location where the 22 cameras will be installed after holding a public hearing. Newsom is expected to announce today how many more cameras The City will be able to purchase.

Nance said he recommends installing the 22 cameras in a number of existing cameras’ locations because in some cases the existing cameras are not capturing the full view of the area.

Nance emphasized that more time is needed to determine if the cameras are truly effective, but he said early data supports their use. For example, there was a 30 percent decrease in violent crimes at 19th and Mission streets after a camera was installed there, Nance said, comparing crime statistics from 30 days before the camera’s installation with three months afterward. Using the same time frame, Nance said there was a 67 percent decline in violent crimes in the area covered by the camera at Third and Kirkwood streets.

There are 14 other locations under consideration for cameras, including sections of the Tenderloin, the Hallidie and UN plazas as well as at Haight and Webster streets.

Camera locations

Thirty-three security cameras currently monitoring 14 different city locations:

Location Number of cameras

Eddy Street/Buchanan Street 2

Third Street/Kirkwood Street 4

Middlepoint Street/Westpoint Street 2

Turk Street between Scott and Pierce streets 2

Turk Street between Scott and Divisadero streets 2

Pierce Street between Eddy and Turk streets 2

Scott Street between Eddy and Turk streets 2

Scott Street/Eddy Street 1

Pierce Street/Eddy Street 1

Eddy Street between Scott and Pierce streets 2

Eddy Street between Scott and Divisadero streets 2

26th Street/Treat Street 5

Alemany Street/Ellsworth Street 4

19th Street/Mission Street 2

Source: Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice

jsabatini@examiner.com

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