Beach Security Cameras Are Still Rolling But Police Are No Longer Watching Due to Budget Cuts – Yet Homeland Security Funds Will Pay for More
by Michael Chen / Channel 10 News / May 5, 2010
The cameras on the beach are still rolling, but San Diego police are no longer staffing their camera system at Mission Beach.
The five cameras were installed in response to a street robbery and vicious sexual assault case in 2006 that left city and community leaders outraged. It cost $100,000 to install the cameras, which are put up at Belmont Park and South Mission Beach.
But after several years of watching, police have stopped monitoring those cameras.
Frank Gormlie, the editor of the The OB Rag blog, said the cameras are an invasion of privacy and a lack of monitoring them makes the cameras a waste of money.
“It’s ludicrous and ridiculous,” he said.
Police said money in the form of budget cuts was one reason for the move and officers could be doing more important things.
“It wouldn’t be the most effective use of one of our officers,” said San Diego Police Captain Chris Ball.
He said the number of incidents requiring a real-time response did not justify tying up officers 24/7. If the department had enough personnel to monitor the cameras, said Ball, they would be more a effective weapon against crime.
Regardless, police said the cameras are still rolling and remain useful.
“On a daily basis, officers are recovering the digital recordings and frequently those identifications lead to arrests of suspects,” said Ball.
A federal grant of several hundred thousand dollars will allow 13 more security cameras to go up around Mission Bay towards the end of the year.
Lt. Rick Wurts, San Diego lifeguard chief said the purpose of the cameras was not to record everything as it happens but as a complement to what they are already doing.
“The hope is the cameras will be another tool to help us monitor things in Mission Bay and back up our eyes on the sand,” he said.