Zapf Introduces Surveillance Cameras to OB at Press Conference But No Questions Were Allowed

by on July 22, 2016 · 7 comments

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

OB cams 72116 prot

Before the media and protesters, the press conference gets underway.

Councilwoman Lori Zapf on Thursday, July 21st, introduced the newly-installed police surveillance cameras at a brief news conference held on the greens near the OB Lifeguard Station.

With ranking police officers and OB merchants on both sides of her, Zapf led off the presser before 2 TV cameras, and a handful of protesters opposed to the cameras.

OB cams 72116 prior

Just prior to the presser: Councilwoman Zapf is at lecture.

Zapf said that over a year ago, police leaders at Western Division working with her office on safety measures came up with the idea to install ten cameras along OB’s waterfront.

Now they’ve all been placed, from the OB Pier to Dog Beach, and the signs went up just now, Zapf said, and the cameras can now go live.

Emphasizing the cameras were a crime-prevention tool, a deterrent, they’ll make the beach more safe, she said, mentioning that the cameras will bring relief to the tourists worried about being victimized.

Why the cameras? Zapf asked. And then she rattled off a couple of reasons, one being that the OB Town Council supported them as did other community leaders. I noted that not one officer or board member of the OB Town Council was present.

Julie Klein was introduced. Klein said “finally they’re here.” She also warned that anybody out surfing or on the beach – “you will be watched.” (That’s what it sounded like, but I don’t think that’s what she intended.)

OB cams 72116 Tower

Large monitor set up just below life guard tower camera.

The volunteer who runs the Point Loma Surf Team was also introduced and said she’s “very excited” about the cameras.  She then introduced 2 young women members of the team and both complained that they’re had things stolen off the beach and the cameras will stop all that.

Now that the signs are up, Zapf said, “people will be on notice.”

Capt. Kenneth Lucas was next up at the podium, head of Western Division, and said he had heard the “outcry from the community about public safety,” and presumably that was why he recommended to Zapf to find funding to have the cameras installed.  He added, “It happened very quickly.”

Not certain what Capt Lucas was referring to there, as the cameras were announced a year ago, and the community was told that they would be up last year in 2015, then at the beginning of this year ….

Lt. Carter spoke and said that the ten cameras were now up and that the “signs went up this morning.”

And that was it for the presentation. No questions were allowed and Zapf and her entourage flowed over to the large monitor set up just outside the Lifeguard station – it was showing different views of what the cameras were feeding.  It was just a temporary set-up, as the public will not be allowed to view the screens once the feed goes live.

Thought this was a press conference, where the press are allowed to ask questions, I asked one of Zapf’s aids. “One-on-one interviews are allowed,” I was told.

In the meantime, here’s Dave Rice’s report on the presser over at the San Diego Reader.

So as the Councilwoman was returning to this side of the station, I was able to approach her and ask a few questions.

Flanked by her aids, Zapf at first took my question very politely. I asked her, “Knowing that the community is very divided by this issue,” and I ticked off a list of examples of opposition to them – “why weren’t the cameras vetted more by the community after the community was told last year that they were afait a compli, a done deal?”

Zapf then launched into her spiel that she said she keeps having to repeat, that the OB Town Council supported them, that the community wanted better public safety measures. She said she gave a lengthy explanation of the cameras back last year at a town council meeting.

I then asked her why she didn’t attend the community forum back last December 9th – a forum set up just to discuss the cameras – or why she didn’t allow any of her staff to attend? This wasn’t answered except to reiterate her appearance at the town council meeting.

She and her staff then said she had to leave for some other event or interview, and they pulled her away.

With my voice rising just a tad, I tried to explain that this was the first time the community has had a chance to question the councilwoman about the cameras in a public space.

Alas, she was gone.  Her PR person handed me a 2 page print out alleging they were answers to FAQs.

Here’s the other questions I wanted to ask Zapf – and by the way – none of them are answered by the “fact sheet”.

Q1: Police representatives have often said the cameras were “not Big Brother” coming into OB. Yet, in the book 1984, surveillance cameras were the most pervasive, invasive aspect of living under Big Brother. How do you square that with the statements about the cameras not representing Big Brother?

Q2: Mission Beach has had similar surveillance cameras installed a few years ago. What happened to them? We heard that they are not being used at all. Why or why not?

Q3: Police now say that no one is watching the video screens 24/7, but can’t that change if funding is made available to finance more staff to do the watching?

Q4: Will there be a follow-up study a year from now to determine if the cameras have been effective? And if they have not been effective, will they be taken down?

Q5: Did you see statistics from the police that indicated a spike in crimes at or near the beach in order to spur the police to want the cameras?

Q6: Won’t the cameras push criminal activity into the surrounding blocks and into the rest of the community now that the beach is being watched?

At any rate, maybe someday the community will have these questions answered – some of us have been asking them for nearly a year.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Debbie July 22, 2016 at 1:34 pm

Laurie….good thing she collects on that city auto expense account …. so she can get to all of her important appointments :-)

IMO-She does come close to the classiness or intellect of Ms. Frye

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Fred July 22, 2016 at 3:21 pm

This is just pathetic.
PATHETIC!

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Rufus July 23, 2016 at 7:17 am

Chuckling……after a week or of humdity and windblown sand, the lenses will cloud over and render the cameras near useless.

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Groucho July 24, 2016 at 10:29 am

Where were the the town council members? Perhaps, they are monitoring the cameras?
By their own admission, they don’t monitor the cameras real time.
Remind me again how that guarantees my safety and prevents crime?

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PL Local July 24, 2016 at 11:29 am

Wish there was a camera at “The Arch” with a live feed for the lifeguards and cops.

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jettyboy jettyboy July 25, 2016 at 9:06 am

This is just stupid. If cameras won’t be monitored live how will that prevent crime? People go to the beach to get away from all the bullshit in their daily existence, not to be put under surveillance.
Surf Team members had things stolen on beach. How will un-moniterd cameras help that? Maybe they should have had someone not in the water watching their stuff. Like the coach. Isn’t a coach supposed to be responsible for team equipment? All the arguments in favor of these cameras are weak at best. Sounds like OB has been hoodwinked.

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triggerfinger July 25, 2016 at 11:12 am

OB Town Council’s endorsement was tepid at best. I wonder how they feel now that their organization is being paraded around in the media as the decider of these. It seems like Zapf and OBMA are content letting it seem like someone else’s decision.

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