Experiencing a spike in car and residential burglaries and not solving as many cases as they would like, Orinda police approached their city council in hope of gaining a technological advantage in their part in the war on crime.
Pointing to their sister department to the east in Lafayette, Orinda Chief Mark Nagel – backed by Lafayette Police Chief Eric Christensen – went to his council asking for license plate readers and cameras capable of identifying cars used in local crimes.
While the council’s interest was piqued by Lafayette’s crime closure rate, hovering at around 30 percent compared with Orinda’s 4 to 5 percent, some on the council and elsewhere in town remained doubtful about the efficacy of the technology and, perhaps most important, who exactly has access to the data it amasses.
Despite those doubts the council this week approved use of strategically placed cameras and the license plate readers across the city while administrators hammer out policy regarding access to the accumulated data.
It’s no secret Orinda and other cities and towns up and down the 24/680 Corridor have been hard hit by auto and residential burglars in recent weeks – with most in law enforcement pointing to the “catch and release” aspects of voter-approved Prop 47 behind the spike.
While Lafayette – and its tech savvy chief – appear to have benefited from their embrace of existing surveillance technology, other jurisdictions worry about being painted with the “Big Brother” brush. Still others use the technology available to them, but quietly.
Will it make a difference? It already has, to an impressive degree, in some areas. But the fact is that well organized and seasoned crews of thieves are targeting Lamorinda, Walnut Creek, and the Tri-Valley and appear to have ramped up their efforts in recent weeks.
I’m glad we have them in Lafayette. No regrets.