December 10, 2012

Surveillance Systems Used by San Leandro Police

At least three surveillance systems are currently used by the San Leandro Police Department: red light cameras for law enforcement at four intersections, one police car with an automated license plate scanner, and 24 traffic cameras that are capturing video for use by the police. The police department has also expressed interest in testing a video system mounted to individual police officers, and a server to store video for the system was recently approved by the Information Technology Department.

Traffic Cameras

About halfway through 2012, the City of San Leandro implemented the ability to digitally record video from 24 traffic cameras throughout the city. Twelve of the cameras are mounted under a smoked plastic dome and resemble surveillance cameras. Each can be controlled from City Hall and has the ability to point in any direction and to zoom in on areas. Using the zoom capability, it is possible to identify not only cars, but drivers and pedestrians.

Pelco Spectra pan-tilt-zoom camera
Pelco Spectra pan-tilt-zoom camera under San Leandro street light

The cameras are made by Pelco and are in the following locations:

  • E. 14th St / Davis St
  • E. 14th St / San Leandro Blvd
  • E. 14th / Hesperian Blvd
  • Davis St / Polvorosa Overpass
  • Davis St / Orchard Ave
  • Davis St / San Leandro Blvd
  • Marina Blvd / Teagarden St
  • Bancroft Ave / Estudillo Ave
  • Hesperian Blvd / Springlake Dr
  • Hesperian Blvd / Halcyon Dr
  • Washington Ave / Springlake Dr
  • Marina Blvd / Merced St

In addition to the 12 Pelco cameras that can point in any direction, another 12 cameras that are used to detect traffic at stoplights, but cannot move, are being digitally recorded. These cameras are in the following locations:

Traffic Detection Camera
Traffic detection camera at San Leandro intersection
  • NB Hesperian Blvd/Halcyon Dr
  • SB Hesperian Blvd/Halcyon Dr
  • EB Halcyon Dr/Hesperian Blvd
  • WB Fairmont Dr/Hesperian
  • SB Williams St/Westgate Pkwy
  • EB Marina Blvd/San Leandro Blvd
  • EB Driveway/Westgate Pkwy
  • NB Washington Ave/Springlake Dr
  • SB Washington Ave/Springlake Dr
  • WB Springlake Dr/Washington Ave
  • NB Merced St/Reynolds & Brown D/W
  • NB Merced St/Williams St

According to City of San Leandro Senior Transportation Engineer Reh-Lin Chen, the Pelco pan-tilt-zoom cameras were installed to monitor traffic, but until a recent upgrade, only one camera could be recorded at a time. The traffic detection cameras are being recorded, says Chen, to protect the City from liability by providing evidence in the event of a traffic collision. However, Chen was not aware of the video recording ever being used for that purpose.

In the past six months, Chen reported that the San Leandro Police have asked for video recordings 10 to 12 times. The requests are informal, so he could not provide specifics for each of the police requests. The traffic department provides the video recordings on a USB flash drive or on a shared computer folder that can only be accessed by the police and traffic departments.

License Plate Scanner

The automated license plate scanner is mounted on a police patrol car and consists of three cameras connected to a computer. It takes pictures of every license plate visible to the cameras as the car is driven. Along with pictures, the computer records the geographic location where the picture was taken and the time and date of the picture. The license plate number is compared to a database of stolen vehicles, Automated Warrant System, DMV, missing and wanted persons, domestic violence/restraining order, and supervised release file. If there is a match, the system produces a beep to alert the police officer.

The pictures gathered by the system frequently include the surrounding area and sometimes recognizable individuals. After requesting and receiving information about my vehicles stored in the database, I could identify locations where my vehicle was photographed, including a picture that showed my children getting out of the car in the driveway of my house.

Between March 2008 and July 2010, the system generated a database of more than 2 million records. There is no retention policy for the data and the information gathered by the system is being stored indefinitely. More than 4 millions records are likely stored in the database by now and the majority (more than 95%) are of vehicles that are being used by people not suspected of or charged with any crime.

Red Light Cameras

Red light cameras have been installed at intersections in San Leandro since 2006. According to a San Leandro Police Department web page, the cameras were installed to “reduce red light running and cut down on auto-related accidents and fatalities.” However, the cameras were installed at high-traffic intersections rather than dangerous intersections identified in a February 2005 study by Dowling Associates, Inc. entitled "Analysis of High Collision Locations in San Leandro."

Red light camera at Floresta Blvd. and Washington Ave. in San Leandro

Six cameras were originally installed, but that number was reduced to five when the contract was renewed in April 2011. The sixth camera, at the intersection of Washington Ave & Lewelling, was removed because it was generating hundreds less red light citations than the other intersections and therefore, not as profitable as the other red light cameras.

Red light cameras are installed at the following locations:

  • EB Fairmont Drive & E. 14th Street
  • EB and WB Floresta/Halcyon & Washington Avenue
  • NB E. 14th Street & Davis Street
  • EB Marina Boulevard & Teagarden Street

On Monday, December 10, 2012, the San Leandro City Council will hold a work session entitled “Presentation by San Leandro Police Department and Discussion on Public Safety.” The meeting starts at 7pm and will be held at City Council Chambers at 835 E. 14th Street.

Posted by Mike Katz-Lacabe at December 10, 2012 12:54 AM | TrackBack

Hello, I was involved in a hit and run accident just past the Marina on Merced. Is there a way for the public to view the video? possibly identify the responsible vehicle?

Posted by: Anton Louie at April 28, 2013 2:38 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?