Plans to bring eight cameras capable of capturing license plates and storing that information for use by law enforcement in Orinda are currently ongoing, with city officials and others watching a similar effort currently underway in neighboring Lafayette and Piedmont.
Orinda’s city council takes up the issue yet again at its meeting Tuesday night, with lingering questions about available contracts with vendors and data access still in the air. With that, local law enforcement – namely police in Lafayette and Piedmont – credit their camera systems with a dramatic reduction in residential break-ins and other crimes.
Whether that number, cited as a 75 percent reduction in home burglaries in Lafayette and approximately 32 percent in crime overall in Piedmont, will be enough to overcome lingering questions and concerns and will be enough to sway the Orinda council remains to be seen.
Orinda Police Chief Mark Nagel, backed by his tech savvy colleague in Lafayette – Chief Eric Christensen – maintains that the eight fixed cameras located in strategic locations around his city, operating in conjunction with an automated license plate reading system also in use in Lafayette, would be valuable arrows in his crime fighting quiver.
“In 2014, our investigations team solved 100% of our armed robberies through the use of some type of camera system,” Christensen has said. “Without the cameras, at least 60% of those crimes would not have been solved – the cameras were the key piece of evidence that led us to the suspect.”
While cost outlay for Orinda’s camera system do not seem to be outwardly problematic – with a roughly $7,000 expenditure for the eight fixed cameras and $16,589 for a License Plate Reader mounted to the roof of a patrol car – Orinda’s council has questioned the strength of existing contracts between the Office of the Sheriff, which provides Orinda and Lafayette with contracted police services, and the company providing the equipment.
Determining who has access to stored surveillance data and the length of time that information is stored is also being evaluated.