The Coast News Group
The Carlsbad Police Department plans to add more security cameras around public facilities, including the use of drones. File photo

Carlsbad to expand public security camera system

CARLSBAD — Some call it security enhancement, others surveillance, but either way the increase in government cameras in public is a growing trend.

Carlsbad is no different as David Graham, the city’s chief innovation officer, and Carlsbad Police Chief Neil Gallucci reported Oct. 15 to the City Council on plans to add more security cameras, which includes drones, at public facilities.

The two, though, reported on a contract for citywide roaming security guards at the three libraries, City Hall, community gardens, Pine Avenue Community, Alga Norte and Holiday parks, city-sponsored events and high-traffic areas in the Village.

“Drone cameras would be part of public safety camera system, just different than our fixed cameras,” Gallucci said. “We have a separate policy for drones and body cams because there are nuances there.”

Scott Chadwick, city manager, said due to national and other events, the goal is to ensure the city and its residents are protected. Graham said one goal is to proactively adopt a more consistent approach to security at city facilities, which currently has not been applied.

A recent incident at Dove Library, where an elderly woman was attacked and her car stolen, leads to a change in perception, Gallucci said. Police arrested the alleged attacker and the recovered the car, he added.

“When things like that happen at public buildings it can change perception of crime and fear of crime,” Gallucci said.

As for technology, the city approved a police policy in 2017 for a public safety camera system. The policy allows, per approval of the chief of police, installation of cameras in high-value or high-threat areas based on surveys.

Gallucci said at a park, for example, cameras would monitor playgrounds, while staying away from locker rooms.

Graham said it incorporates best practices for public safety camera systems and is constructed to protect privacy. Graham said the closed-circuit TV system is focused on public facilities rather than a broader spectrum; although the city will consolidate its signage to have a “ubiquitous” notification at each location, Graham said.

The policy also prohibits invasion of individual privacy, view of private areas and areas where the reasonable expectation of privacy exists.

“Other current facilities with cameras include the Faraday Center and the safety center. Improvements underway at Aviara and Poinsettia Community parks will include the installation of public safety cameras. The city will also retrofit camera locations at City Hall and libraries,” Graham said.

Gallucci and Graham both said recent incidents inflicted on city buildings and the arrest of a suspect are other reasons for the expansion. In addition, they leaned on the stress and fear those incidents took on staffers.

“This is all within the consistency with the policy to protect privacy and the expectations of privacy,” Graham said.

Other measures the police department has incorporated include run/hide/fight training, which teaches individuals how to identify an escape route, hide out of view and fight when their lives are in danger.

“We’ve done site surveys on every city building,” Gallucci said.

Some cameras record 24-hours per day, others are motion activated, Gallucci said. The data, meanwhile, is retained for not less than one year and is then purged, unless a video segment is used for evidence.

The system is a passive one, Gallucci said, so they are not actively monitored, although dispatch and watch commanders can pull up the video in real time.

“If someone’s at a park and there’s a problem, I don’t want them to assume that now the police department knows there’s a problem,” Councilman Keith Blackburn said.