The Oceanside City Council unanimously approved a contract to purchase and install more than four dozen surveillance cameras to be installed in the city’s downtown area as a means to help the local police department supplement understaffed service.
Fifty-four surveillance cameras will be installed around Main Street and local businesses in an effort to help authorities monitor crime in those areas. Supporters of the measure claimed the cameras would add a layer of safety to the city since they could help police with investigations, while opponents argued that the cameras would be an invasion of privacy that could potentially be used to target certain individuals.
“Even though it’s a public area, being seen 24/7 is almost like feeling like everyone is watching us regardless,” Oceanside resident Lexus Martinez said before the measure was approved. “Now that we have to look behind our backs, it’s kind of uncomfortable.”
The city worked with the Oceanside Police Department to locate the most strategic placements to install the cameras. They will focus on busy intersections, streets and alleys, in addition to a few beach areas and the coastal highway.
"The locations selected for the placement of the cameras were based on the concentration of crime, which is significant in the identified areas," wrote Oceanside Police Chief Fred Armijo in an email to Oceanside Mayor Esther Sanchez, published as part of supporting documents for the proposal to the Oceanside City Council.
Armijo adds that "They are intended to serve as a deterrent, aid in the investigations of crimes, and provide an opportunity on a case-by-case basis for real-time monitoring."
Proponents said they would feel safer with the cameras installed.
"There was a lot of theft in the area. Some weird situations with people,” SoCal Trading Company Operations Manager Samantha Sager said.
Sager added that the extra security the surveillance cameras would add would “be great for our area, for the safety of our staff and be able to stay open later."
While the department says they do not have staffing to monitor the cameras in real-time right now, Armijo plans to revisit the issue of creating positions that will monitor the cameras, but that will not likely occur within the next year.
The proposal isn’t exactly a new topic in Oceanside. The $500,000 budget for the cameras has been available since the funds were approved as part of the Measure X budget approved on June 3, 2020.
The department says that the retention period for the stored video is one-year, based on their consultations with the Oceanside City Attorney's office.