Opponents of Ocean Beach Police Cameras Get Some Local Press

by on January 19, 2016 · 5 comments

in Civil Rights, Culture, Environment, Media, Ocean Beach, Organizing, Politics, San Diego

OB CAPA Rick Callejon DaveRice -ed

OB CAPA spokesperson Rick Callejon holding sign. Image is taken from Dave Rice’s photo published at the SD Reader.

Opponents of the police surveillance cameras coming to Ocean Beach’s waterfront were out on Sunday, January 17th, at the foot of Newport, collecting signatures and holding anti-camera signs. And they got some local press for their efforts.

In an article entitled, “Here come the cameras, O.B.”, local writer Dave Rice who reports for the Reader, asked in his sub-head, “Will police have available budget to monitor video in real-time?”

Rice came out to witness first-hand the efforts of CAPA, Citizens Against Privacy Abuse, to inform and educate the community about the coming installation of the 10-camera system by the City of San Diego. One of CAPA’s primary concerns is that, as Rice echoes: ” the community was not given an opportunity to discuss the cameras’ placement before the city approved the installation.”

Rice ended up interviewing OBcean Rick Callejon, who was holding a sign for passing motorists and pedestrians out to view the huge waves, that read: “We don’t need no stinkin cameras in OB!” Callejon has been a visible spokesperson for CAPA.  Callejon stated:

“We’re trying to raise community awareness. The police made the announcement that these cameras are coming without reaching out first for any community input. We think that’s a big deal, and a large part of what we’re doing is educational — lots of people don’t even know that the cameras are coming, and we want to delay them or stop them.”

“We have no data studying the efficacy of these cameras where they’ve been used elsewhere; there’s no data from the police or Zapf’s office actually coming from the beach. All of their statistics deal with residential crime — and we’re concerned that if there is crime happening on the beach, these cameras will drive it into the nearby residential neighborhoods….

“Our crime rates aren’t high right now, so far as a historical view is concerned, and we believe there are better uses for our money — items pinpointed by the O.B. Town Council and the O.B. Planning Board are that we need money for our library, we need money for our lifeguard station. And if the problem here is homelessness, we need money for outreach — these people need counseling and services rather than more reasons to be arrested time and time again.”

Callejon added:

“I’ve been out here for several hours and I haven’t seen one police officer on foot today. We welcome community policing, we welcome interaction between the police and the residents here in Ocean Beach. But cameras aren’t the answer to creating that contact. Please, get out of the cars and deal with the people that are here on your beats.”

Rice, in his article, recounted how:

Police and representatives for city councilmember Lorie Zapf, who earmarked a significant portion of the $61,000 initial cost of installing the cameras, did present their plans to the O.B. Planning Board and OB Mainstreet Association, a local merchants’ group. They declined, however, to participate in a subsequent forum organized by camera opponents.

Rice also reported that CAPA spokesperson Callejon had asserted “there is no budget for police staff to monitor the video feeds in real-time or maintain the equipment once it goes in.”  San Diego Reader

By the way, Dave Rice is no stranger to surveillance cameras. His article here on the OB Rag about the OB Pier surveillance camera a few years ago can be considered the seminal piece on modern spy cams in San Diego’s alternative media world.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Colin January 19, 2016 at 3:52 pm

Excellent interview, Rick Callejon. And about that allocated money Rice itemizes, it’s not inconceivable to me that it’s the kind of top down county/city budgeting that ends up in our local line items “needing to be spent”, regardless the actual local context, if blanket beach surveillance is actually materially justified by the civic state of the beach. Somebody puts the money there and then it “needs” to be spent mostly just because it’s there, before it has to be returned, and make someone’s overall budget projections lower than the present higher level they’d like to retain next budget cycle, too. Given what Callejon says about the potentially mis-conceptualized case for the beach cameras, i.e., residential-only crime stats within historical norm, it’s possible this is merely allocated money somebody has to spend, the biggest “reason”. Of course, I do not know this to be the case. I just wouldn’t be surprised if it was.


Colin January 19, 2016 at 4:22 pm

Aha, just quick-looked Rice’s 2010 article, “7. Funding for these cameras is coming to the Lifeguard division through the Urban Area Security Initiative, a bill drafted in the wake of 9/11 by Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY) and intended to drive money for anti-terrorism measures to areas where the perceived threat of attacks was highest.”

Must be OB Terrorism Threat Level Flashing Red?

Yep, that’s gotta be a lot of top down slush money made from federal tax base (no doubt helped along by industry lobbying for slices) that has dumped all kinds of “needed” militarized technology up and down Main Street USA. So, that was 2010, I wonder if it’s still just one camera on OB Pier, with that Sauron stare the whole length of the beach. At least you know which way to turn when fixing yourself.

(When is OBMA upgrading from NPS to MRAP?)


Dave January 19, 2016 at 9:33 pm

Just to clarify, the surveillance program I wrote on back in 2010 (with the assistance of Editordude) died…somewhere along the line. These new ones don’t seem to be funded by terror-bucks or dumped off onto Fire/Lifeguards for maintenance and monitoring – though it’s not clear they’re actually dumped onto anyone to maintain or monitor, from Callejon’s telling. That’s perhaps even more concerning.


rick callejon January 26, 2016 at 10:20 am

SDPD should donate the cameras to the Orange County Jail.


Molly January 26, 2016 at 7:13 pm

rick – I get it heh heh


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