[i]Tuesday June 19 12:22 PM EDT
City To Try Cameras As Crime-Fighting Tools
The City of Palm Springs is investing in a new kind of potential deterrent to crime: closed-circuit television.
Last week, the city council voted in favor of seeking state and federal grants that would enable Palm Springs to be one of the first cities in the nation to install cameras to monitor "high-crime" areas.
Under the plan, 22 cameras would be placed atop traffic lights and street lamps on or around Palm Canyon Drive, the so-called "Rodeo Drive" of the desert.
According to Palm Springs police, the area, which is saturated in pricey businesses catering to tourists, has recently become the epicenter of crime in the desert community.
We get calls for help from there "ranging anywhere from rape, robbery and assaults down to vandalism," Palm Springs police spokesman Patrick Williams told CBS 2 News.
In the past year alone, Williams said, police have fielded 30,000 calls about crime along the 12-block street.
Cameras would help law enforcement officials keep a closer watch on the area and may dissuade lawbreakers from committing more of their misdeeds, according to Williams.
"This is an opportunity for us to add, in essence, the equivalent of 56 eyes of police officers in an area that has demonstrated a need for additional levels of service," he told CBS 2 News.
The annual cost of maintaining and operating the cameras would be roughly $300,000, compared to $2 ½ million to hire more police officers, according to reports.
Each of the cameras would be connected via closed-circuit TV to the dispatch center of the Palm Springs Police Department.
With the press of a button, dispatchers, watch commanders and supervisors would have the ability to watch each and every move of persons on Palm Canyon Drive.
"We can call up a location, bring it into full-screen view, and then have the capabilities of zooming, panning and operating the camera remotely from here," Williams said.
The cameras would be outfitted with a 22-plus zoom lens.
If a dispatcher received an emergency call, he or she could instantly locate the scene of trouble, provided that it's within camera range.
Still, it causes many people great discomfort to know someone might be watching them.
In a letter to the editor of the Desert Sun, Robert Phillips of Palm Desert complained, "Why not cameras and recorders in our homes to make sure we behave correctly?
"This Nazi mentality was the background for the murder of more than 6 million Jews … in World War II."
Francine Sherman worried that cameras on street corners are sure to be followed by cameras "zooming in on our homes."
Robert Levy wasn't so much concerned about privacy as he was the idea of police officers not being where they're supposed to -- on the street.
"They need to be first-hand at the scene, watching what's going on -- not watching from some office," Levy told CBS 2 News.
According to the Desert Sun, the cameras won't be installed until Palm Springs receives federal and state funds for the project.
Once the cameras are in place, signs will be posted alerting pedestrians that they may be under surveillance, according to CBS 2 News.[/i]
I note that this is being funded by state and federal tax payers vice the subjects, I mean citizens of Palm Springs. For those who might not know the citizens city of Palm Springs tend to have blue hair and drive Caddilacs.