San Leandro Moves Ahead With More Security Cameras; Hints At Limiting Data Retention

SAN LEANDRO//PRIVACY | San Leandro City Council approved to move ahead with expanding its video surveillance system, however, with hesitation over the one-year retention period of information collected by the cameras. The council approved, 5-2, directing staff to formulate a plan for additional cameras at two undetermined location. Mayor Stephen Cassidy and Councilmember Ursula Reed both dissented.

The city currently maintains multiple cameras at City Hall, the Police Department, and red-light cameras at various intersections, but Police Chief Sandra Spagnoli wants to add cameras to two new locations with automated license plate readers (ALPR) as well as add additional ALPR’s to police vehicles. According to Spagnoli only one police car currently uses the device.

Spagnoli urged the council to act fast in approving installation of these new camera systems in order to avoid, what she claims, will be “displacement” of crime from Oakland to San Leandro. Oakland plans to implement their new surveillance program, the Domain Awareness Program (DAC) and over 150 cameras on city streets. “We have been stuck with the same staff for the past 30 years. This technology can help prosecution of criminals and it can enhance crime prevention,” Spagnoli told the council. “We have proved with our existing programs that cameras work in the city.”

However, despite Spagnoli’s push for these cameras, evidence of their effectiveness largely relied upon information from a police special interests group and the utilization of other similar systems in other cities. Spagnoli noted that Pittsburgh saw a dramatic reduction in crime after installing more security cameras with LPR’s in their city. She also referred to anecdotal evidence of criminals, violent and non-violent, that were caught after committing a crime because of security cameras. But, it was later noted by Councilmember Jim Prola that San Francisco did witness a reduction in property crime but that security cameras there did not have much effect on reducing violent crime. Spagnoli responded: “We rely on the experts in our field.”

But many citizens have voiced privacy concerns about the use of surveillance systems to monitor citizen activity and the retention time for footage caught by those cameras. Controversy surrounding the use of these camera systems was first reported by Wall Street Journal when San Leandro resident and school trustee, Mike Katz-Lacabe received photos from cameras tracking him and his children regularly despite never committing a crime. Katz said during public comment that although new policy now says to only retain information for a year this was not the case last fall when such information could be retained indefinitely. “There is no point in keeping this information for so long if most of it is useless,” said Katz-Lacabe after he referred to a Maryland study that found less than two percent of the camera’s recordings to be useful.

However, some citizens, one from Oakland, voiced support for the cameras in reducing crime. “My husband was held at gunpoint in the driveway,” said the speaker who added after the incident they installed cameras to help prevent further crime.

Concerns over the length of retaining video and ALPR data was also voiced by Prola, who grinded Spagnoli over the reason for retaining the information for a year when much of it isn’t of any use and other cities in the country retained their information for shorter periods. Spagnoli didn’t give a clear defense only explaining that policies differ from state to state and the San Leandro PD was following California state attorney general’s requirements. “It may take three months until we can get to a burglary,” said Spagnoli, “retaining for a year will help day to day police activities.”

But Prola, along with much of the council, still voiced interest in reducing the retention period for footage caught, further citing shorter time periods of retention by other police departments who didn’t see a year as necessary. Despite this protest though, the council still largely approved the agenda item to draft up a plan to expand the surveillance system but urged shorter retention period. “When walking the streets and knocking on doors public safety is the number one thing people talk about,” said Prola, “I am not against the use of cameras.” Councilmember Benny Lee later echoed Prola’s statements after the meeting. “It is the same thing I hear, it is true,” he said.

But Cassidy urged council to not vote quite yet until tighter restrictions were imposed on the use and retention of the surveillance program. He further urged other restrictions, “I would like to see restrictions on use of sharing video and use of facial recognition software,” said Cassidy. “I am also in favor of a 30-day storage of the video footage.”

Shane Bond is an East Bay Citizen contributor. Follow him on Twitter @Shane_Bond_

Categories: crime, Domain Awareness Center, Jim Prola, licence plate readers, S.L. City Council, San Francisco, san leandro, Sandra Spagnoli, security cameras, Stephen Cassidy, surveillance, violence

11 replies

  1. There should be security cameras, but with reduced holding periods like other cities have.


  2. Does not Mike Katz aim his camera in front of people's face and make fun of them on his blog together with his wife?



  3. cameras+readers=crime prevention
    privacy concerns can be mitigated


  4. We need more cameras and readers in San Leandro public locations. Thanks to SLPD and City Council!


  5. Hypocrite San Leandro school board member Mike Katz is whining about privacy concerns of surveillance cameras. Yet simultaneously, he's circulating his family portrait to the public or actually, the whole world, whenever opportunities arise.
    Celebrity time?


  6. Prola was definitely right on this one!


  7. San Leandro school board member Mike Katz
    might be running for city council in 2014 is married to a crazy twisted, long windbag calling everyone a liar when you disagree with her.


  8. Mike Katz and his internet troll of a wife do exactly that, they take pictures of people and post them on their blog. What is amazing is that they are filled with their own sense of self importance and loathe of everyone else. They truly think they are “saving” all of us because we are not as socially advanced as they are. What they are is the left wing equivalent of the right wing conservative. You cant disagree with their opinions or your vilified by his internet bully of a wife. Notice she does all her damage behind a keyboard where it's safe because she can't hold a coherent conversation in public and he smiles along milking his 15 minutes of fame. Funny he never mentioned he lives on a major street in San Leandro and that is probably why there are so many pictures of his car.


  9. Really good to know about it. I am extremely happy
    so nice


  10. in spite of push for these Polaroids, confirmation of their adequacy to a great extent depended upon data from a police extraordinary investment bunch and the usage of other comparable frameworks in different urban communities. Spagnoli noted that Pittsburgh saw an emotional diminished in wrongdoing in the wake of introducing more security . aerial engineers


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: