Karl Fischer
Mercury News
May 3, 2008

Electronic eyes soon will focus on Richmond city streets in a $1.4 million attempt to curb crime and blight.

Crews began installing a system of 26 wireless cameras and their infrastructure around the city last week that police hope to use for everything from snaring evidence in shootings at high-crime corners to catching illegal dumpers, graffiti artists and crosswalk-running motorists.

The move comes after years of urging from neighborhood groups and elected officials eager to reduce street violence. It also comes over the past concerns of privacy advocates such as the American Civil Liberties Union.

The project uses modern technology and, unlike camera systems in some other cities, includes built-in room to grow, Deputy Police Chief Ed Medina said.

“Some other cities have chosen to just slap up some cameras without any future planning involved,” Medina said. “But we’re looking toward tomorrow. Ours has built-in capacity for expansion” and improvement.

Some of the cameras will sit on power poles at high-traffic intersections, public parks or high-crime corners. Others — some as small as a tube of lipstick — are portable and hideable, and can be used by detectives and code enforcement for targeted police operations.

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