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West Valley Police Now Monitoring Public With Surveillance Cameras

The LAPD's West Valley and Topanga stations' have put the cameras up at undisclosed locations in the Valley which they say are high crime areas. The cameras have been running for several weeks.

The Los Angeles Police Department and Councilman Dennis Zine have a message for criminals: They're watching them.

The police department and council man unveiled the new wireless, mobile surveillance video cameras at a press conference Thursday.

LAPD's Topanga and West Valley stations each have a new surveillance system, complete with eight wireless cameras per station. Beginning in November, the cameras were installed in undisclosed locations to help the police keep an eye in high-crime areas.

"We're not giving the locations because if we give locations, someone's going to say, 'Well, this particular area is under surveillance, so let me go commit a crime over here," Zine explained.

Those monitoring the cameras can rotate and change the camera angle via remote control. The cameras, as a whole, are easily moved to new locations as well, should the stations pinpoint new crime centers to observe.

In addition to the cameras, Topanga and West Valley each have monitoring stations. The stations won't be monitored 24 hours a day, but will record continuously. Monitors will mostly consist of civilian volunteers and reserve officers.

The systems have been up and running for a couple of weeks, now, Zine said at Thursday's meeting. Soon, owners of businesses that have their own surveillance cameras will be able to join into the stations' systems if they want to.

The cameras, which use 3G and 4G cellular wireless technology, feature 35X optical zoom for facial recognition at a distance of up to 600 feet and the system supports storing footage for five years.

The systems come at a total cost of $697,830.67, which will be paid via Council District Three street furniture revenue funds (which are called such because these are the funds that come from advertising on "street furniture," such as transit shelters, kiosks and other fixtures located on streets, sidewalks and public rights-of-way).

"People say, 'That's a lot of money," said Zine, "but then again, crime costs us a lot of money."

On April 5, 2010, the City Council approved Zine’s motion to transfer the funds for the camera systems purchase and installation. The Los Angeles Police Commission board approved the installation of the cameras at a July 3 meeting.

"Public safety has always been my primary concern," said Zine, who was a member of the police force for 33 years and now serves as a reserve officer. "While crime has been reduced continuously in the city of Los Angeles . . . this will help keep those crime patterns down."

The council member also addressed concerns some residents might have of a 'Big Brother' type atmosphere.

"This is not 1984. This is an environment where we have to have increased safety . . . when you're out in the public view, there's no expectation of privacy. When you're out walking the streets, it's nice to know there's a helicopter overhead or a black and white driving down the street or a motorcycle officer or a police officer there to protect your family. That's what it's about," he said.

J Anon January 18, 2013 at 12:46 AM
"...when you're out walking the streets, it's nice to know there's a helicopter overhead or a black and white driving down the street or a motorcycle officer or a police officer there to protect your family. That's what it's about," yes.... Cameras are none of this because nobody is there to respond!.. $1,000,000 does a lot of crime restitution. How much crime will this prevent again?
California Girl January 18, 2013 at 01:01 AM
How long before these cameras are used to spy on peaceful political activists or people who file complaints against LAPD? Police in the US have a LONG history of abusing their position to go after political activists and other perceived "enemies" wrongly.
Don January 18, 2013 at 05:58 PM
They have drones in the air. They have cameras all along the freeways. They have LAPD in concert with the feds conducting manuevers almost daily at the old Nike base above Browns Canyon- yes you watch them land, take-off, manuever in criss-cross fashions. All due respect Mr. Zine this "is" all too familyiar with Orwell's 1984, published in 1949. At some point as we've seen innocent are sacrificed all in the name of crime prevention- cameras by the way are "after the fact" Oh and Mr. Zine, what happened to Chief Beck's public meetings after the rash of police shootings over the summer- innocent people by the way
Kim Neal January 19, 2013 at 01:02 AM
I don't know if I like this or not....
Don Jagg January 20, 2013 at 06:57 PM
I keep reading comments that the cameras will not prevent crime because they "are after the fact". How many times do you think someone will break into a car until he gets caught, if he ever gets caught? If these cameras were to help take that one criminal off the street after the first break in, how many crimes will be prevented? What I don't like is that these cameras are only in West Valley and Topanga Divisions. It's basically telling the crooks that if they don't want to get caught, just go to Devonshire.

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