Possible Video Policing Expansion

June 9, 2008 9:10:24 PM PDT
Fresno's Police Chief is asking for more money to expand video policing. The neighborhoods and businesses near Clovis and Olive avenues could soon have more than a dozen police surveillance cameras keeping watch 24 hours a day. Fresno Police want to install 20 new cameras in the area. But two city council members want more details before more tax dollars go to the controversial program.Elizabeth Rodriguez walks in fear. She says criminals have taken over the intersection of peach and olive. Rodriguez said in Spanish, "Tengo miedo por mis babes." Rodriguez said she is scared for her children's safety. She wants police cameras in her neighborhood to keep an eye on crime.

At a budget hearing on Monday, Fresno's Police Chief Jerry Dyer asked the city council for $500,000 to expand video policing, buying the city 40 new cameras. That would make a total of 150 cameras operating around Fresno. Dyer also wants to pay police cadets to monitor the cameras 24-hours a day. Dyer said, "You then have the ability to turn that camera 360 degrees, pan, tilt zoom in on some activity that may be occurring." Dyer said video policing works. Earlier this year, it captured a Southwest Fresno shooting on tape.

But council members Brian Calhoun and Blong Xiong are withholding their support for the expansion until they have more information. Xiong said, "The biggest decision for me do we continue to invest? Because we still need to invest. Or do we look at what we currently have right now, and is it effective? And is worth the investment for future investments?"

The city council is expected to vote next week on the police chief's budget. Most council members support video policing, but Calhoun and Xiong just want more discussion before more money goes to the program.