Security cameras in downtown Hollister?

City Hall

The Hollister City Council received a proposal at a special meeting Monday by Hollister Police Capt. Carlos Reynoso to install 40 new security cameras in downtown Hollister.
“A big chunk of them … would go into the parking structure (the Briggs building at Gavilan College),” the captain said in an interview Tuesday.
Mayor Ignacio Velazquez said the cameras are needed to help fight crime and keep the city secure.
“We’re looking for new ideas and new tools for helping the police department,” he said.
The cost to the city for the cameras could be about $300,000, including the cost of the equipment and installation, Reynoso said. For high-end cameras, the cost will range between $3,000 to $4,000 per camera.
“We’re looking at a quality megapixel,” he said. “We want something that is usable. Maybe we’ll be able to zoom in if possible.”
He said he had been tapped by the city last year to look into whether camera installation would be feasible. He said that besides the parking structure, the proposal would also add cameras to the fire station and the Veterans Memorial building.
“Security, in general, is a reason,” he said.
The captain said one reason for the change came after flags were stolen during last year’s Hollister Motorcycle Rally. American flags placed by local Boy Scouts were stolen from downtown Hollister.
Reynoso said the police had been using portable security cameras on loan for that rally.
“Those cameras weren’t able to capture the flags (as they were stolen),” he said. He said the new cameras, with face-identifying software and the ability to zoom in on suspects, would make it easier for police to find and locate criminals. Four suspects were eventually arrested and charged in that case.
“All these cameras will be capturing what is in public view,” he said, adding that the cameras should not infringe on the public’s sense of privacy.
The captain said the ideal situation would be to put the cameras up before this summer’s rally.
“Realistically, that might not happen,” he said.
The city is still looking into how much the installation would cost in the end, he said.
“I think it’s early right now because we still need to look at the cost of what it will be,” Velazquez said. “We have a basic idea right now, but we still need to make sure what we’re doing is not going to cost us more than what we’re doing now.”
He said if the cost did go up to $300,000, he hopes the city would be able to purchase more cameras with the funds.
“I’d like to see some at the parks,” he said.
Velazquez hopes the new cameras could reduce costs over time for security, including at the Briggs Building.
“It’s already costing us thousands of dollars a year” in security at the building, he said. “We don’t want to write a big check.”

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