Irvine Seeks to Add Security Cameras in Public Places

Irvine Seeks to Add Security Cameras in Public Places

A security camera is seen on a building in a file photo. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Rudy Blalock

Rudy Blalock

8/11/2023

Updated: 12/30/2023

After some resident concerns over the lack of security cameras in parks and public places in Irvine, California, the city council moved forward with plans to install additional cameras during their Aug. 8 council meeting.
Vice Mayor Tammy Kim who agendized the discussion at their request said the added cameras will enhance public safety.
“What we all want is to create a secure environment where our residents can live their lives … without the constant worry of safety,” she said during the meeting.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, some residents said they were surprised when they first learned some of the city’s public spaces were without security cameras.
“About a year ago, I was at Lakeview Senior Center and my car was parked and hit by somebody who ran off ... And that’s how I found out there was no cameras there,” one resident said.
Another resident, who said he is a high school student, said he supports the idea.
“When I lived in Korea, there used to be a lot of security cameras almost everywhere, in every store, in every street. I would feel safe walking through any street through any store even alone late at night,” he said.
The Orange County Great Park in Irvine, Calif., on Jan. 26, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

The Orange County Great Park in Irvine, Calif., on Jan. 26, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

The city currently has cameras at the Irvine Transportation Center—a passenger rail and bus terminal—at Great Park, and at the Civic Center, according to city staff. The cameras are managed by the city’s police department through its information technology division—which advances cybersecurity and technology usage in the city.
The city’s Community Services Department is already exploring cameras for both Lakeview Senior Center and Heritage Community Park, city staff said.
To save on cost and manpower, staff recommended purchasing video analytics software to monitor camera footage.
“It is impractical, ineffective, and costly to monitor all cameras. Video analytic technology provides the ability to quickly search a large volume of footage for a known event or object,” city staff said during the meeting.
For cameras in public spaces, new ones require approval by the city’s chief of police, and video surveillance is only done in public spaces that have no expectation of privacy, with monitoring limited to public activities, city officials said.
Councilman Larry Agran suggested city staff review how the usage of such cameras in other cities is done, since some residents may disagree with the increased monitoring.
“Obviously, this raises a pretty basic question about whether we’re actually creating kind of a creeping surveillance state or municipality here, which makes people very uncomfortable,” he said.
The Civic Center in Irvine, Calif., on Jan. 12, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

The Civic Center in Irvine, Calif., on Jan. 12, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

He added that if, ultimately, the monitoring is effective in reducing crime, then it should receive community support.
“On the other hand, if cameras can be shown to really deter, or indeed, defeat criminality, by being able to apprehend and prosecute people, that’s the other side of the ledger,” he said.
According to city staff, license plate readers are most effective in catching criminals, and the city will add more to the 14 currently in operation, according to staff.
They said these types of cameras use “cutting edge” image processing algorithms to read license plates and then compare them with databases to identify suspect vehicles.
They also alert police dispatch with real-time information, contributing to finding criminals involved in amber alerts, stolen vehicles, or other criminal activities they said.
Ms. Kim said with Irvine having such a high reputation for safety, it’s surprising the lack of cameras in the city.
“Our residents are quite surprised to know that when they’re at a public park for the most part, or at a community center, there aren’t cameras,” she said.
The council unanimously voted to direct city staff to inventory public places in the city where security cameras could be useful, and bring back plans for such within 60 days.
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Rudy Blalock

Rudy Blalock

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Rudy Blalock is a Southern California-based daily news reporter for The Epoch Times. Originally from Michigan, he moved to California in 2017, and the sunshine and ocean have kept him here since. In his free time, he may be found underwater scuba diving, on top of a mountain hiking or snowboarding—or at home meditating, which helps fuel his active lifestyle.

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