OPINION: Weed's cameras have more than one use

Submitted by Weed Police Department Chief Justin Mayberry

The Weed Police Department purchased two i4-Pods from Security Lines US in 2017-2018 with the approval of the Weed City Council. The PODs, paid for with a grant, do have limited ability to be upgraded. Originally the discussion with the council to purchase the base units also included adding an additional satellite pod in the following years. The satellite addition would expand the direct sightline area of use; but that additional purchase has not been made. Included in the purchase was a web-based data storage service. The cloud service allows us to not have to purchase additional equipment for data storage.

Beside the ability to add the satellite camera to the main unit, the POD system in use by the city does have several other additional accessories. A signal booster (to increase the live-stream cell signal in an area of weak signal strength), solar power unit, and an infrared floodlight to assist in unusually dark areas. The current system does not have the gunshot detection, license plate recognition, or facial recognition capabilities.

It is true that traffic monitoring was one purpose of obtaining the PODs, but also for security monitoring and crime investigation. Part of the intent of acquiring the devices was to aid our often-limited patrol staffing. Being able to monitor traffic flow during inclement weather or holidays and special events. The Pods have been used for investigations that include robbery, battery/assault with a deadly weapon, vehicle theft, vandalism and theft. The PODs have assisted in traffic collision investigations. And most recently in assisting with the reckless discharge of a firearm which caused one person to be transported to the hospital for treatment.

It has been our intent from the beginning to also utilize the system in the South Weed area. Unfortunately, this is not possible until the completion of the Vista Dr. roadway rehabilitation project. Currently, the utility poles operate on photocell light sensors in that area and do not offer a steady power supply.

The decision to place the POD at Roseburg Parkway and Broadway Ave. was made to monitor the multimillion-dollar community center construction project. The camera was mounted with a primary view of the site to the north, but did offer limited peripheral views of the neighborhoods beginning approximately 400 feet to the west and to the east.

Movement of the POD camera requires a coordinated effort with public works; and scheduling to coincide with access to lift equipment that the city does not maintain. From the Community Center, the POD was moved to Bel Air Park primarily to used at Carnevale to assist with booth security and officer staffing based on attendance. The POD did remain in the area for a couple of months.

The decision to place the POD on Main St. was based on the high number of incidents the department was having in the Main St. area. As for the types of businesses in that area, more than several maintain camera systems as required by the laws specific to the associated industry. Law enforcement does have access to some systems by statute, while others may require a subpoena.