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Huntington Beach mulls surveillance cameras for downtown

February 18, 2013 | 12:32 pm

The Huntington Beach City Council is considering placing video surveillance cameras downtown. Credit: Mark Boster / Los AngelesTimes

Huntington Beach is looking into the possibility of placing video surveillance cameras downtown to reduce crime.

The City Council voted Feb. 4 to ask the police and information services departments to look into the issue, the Huntington Beach Independent reported. 

The item, submitted by Councilmen Joe Carchio and Joe Shaw, passed in a 6-1 vote, with Mayor Pro Tem Matt Harper dissenting. Harper said video cameras are appropriate for privately owned properties such as Bella Terra or shopping malls but doesn't approve of adding them to a public area like downtown, he said.

"If a mall wants to put up cameras in a privately owned area, that's their business, in my opinion," Harper said. "But when the government is coming in and placing cameras all about a public area, that's a Big Brother world that I'm not interesting in being a part of. Big Brother is not benevolent."

Carchio said about 300 bicycles were stolen from under the pier last year, some of which cameras could have prevented.

"There's 300 people that aren't coming back to downtown Huntington Beach right there," Police Chief Ken Small said.

Carchio said adding cameras will aid the police department, which has seen staffing levels drop for the last five years.

"The cameras are just going to be another tool for our police officers and give them that assistance if they need it," Carchio said.

Councilman Jim Katapodis, a Los Angeles police sergeant and strong proponent for placing cameras downtown, said he sees the advantages.

"We use cameras in the Los Angeles Police Department and they're extremely effective," he said. "The only people that worry about the cameras are criminals, not regular people."

Harper asked if police would consider removing them if the police staff was at capacity.


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Photo: The Huntington Beach City Council is considering placing video surveillance cameras downtown. Credit: Mark Boster / Los AngelesTimes