After community leader Jesus “Chuy” Campos was shot and killed outside of this Fruitville area restaurant, the city has been under pressure to do something about rising crime in that area. Their solution? Installing numerous cameras on neighborhood businesses, cameras that will continuously monitor the comings and goings of Oakland citizens.
According to the San Francisco Gate, city leaders have used $35,000 in redevelopment money to purchase about 30 cameras for local businesses. The footage will be maintained within the businesses themselves, though owners are required to give law enforcement access to the footage when requested.
Chuy’s death was the result of a robbery gone wrong and one of many recent indications that crime in the Fruitvale area was rising. In addition to the cameras, the city attorney’s office is seeking a civil gang injunction against local gang members in the area. Increased patrol and more motorcycle cops are also coming to the area.
The cameras will be positioned in a 2 square mile area. Police worked with community leaders to find out where the highest concentrations of cameras would be needed. Fruitvale Avenue, Foothill Boulevard, and International Blvd. will be included in the new surveillance neighborhoods, with some intersections being completely monitored by multiple cameras on all sides.
The businesses will be required to maintain footage for 30 days. In other local communities, things are slightly different. In Pittsburg, for example, business owners purchased cameras themselves and gave police access to real-time streaming footage. El Cerrito liquor stores, gun dealers, check cashers, and pawnshops are under local ordinance to have cameras and allow regular inspections of them by police.
The ACLU and other activists are not happy with the increased surveillance. It’s a privacy issue, they say, forcing innocent citizens to be the subject of recording devices when they sometimes aren’t even aware of it. Officials pay these critics little mind, however, and don’t seem to have any problem playing the role of Big Brother.
The value of such cameras is questionable as the footage is rarely good enough to definitively identify someone and they aren’t likely to completely deter crime, merely move crime out of camera’s reach. Regardless, business owners and their patrons in the Fruitvale area will be watched in coming years and most hope the cameras are capable of doing even some of what officials claim.
Even being caught on camera doesn’t ensure a conviction in a criminal case. If you are charged with a crime and feel like it looks hopeless, contact our attorneys today to discuss the specifics and how we might be able to help.