Menlo Park police plan to expand surveillance


Four surveillance cameras will be added to the Menlo Park Police Department's arsenal if city officials agree. The cameras would be mounted at intersections not yet determined, Police Chief Robert Jonsen told the council during a presentation on July 16.

The police department is also testing automated license plate readers borrowed from other jurisdiction while developing a privacy and data retention policy in conjunction with city staff and council members.

During their July 16 meeting, council members discussed best practices for data retention, and asked for a representative of the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center, which will store the license plate data, to give a presentation regarding its privacy policies.

Already underway is a pilot program to arm seven officers with Tasers. Menlo Park was one of only two cities in San Mateo County that didn't use the devices. In 2011 the San Mateo County grand jury recommended their implementation.

According to Chief Jonsen, the officers will log every time a Taser is removed from its holster, whether it's fired or not. He expects Tasers may save the city money. From 2010 to 2012, the police department had 13 claims filed for injuries sustained while subduing suspects and the equivalent of 150 work days lost, costing Menlo Park at least $68,708.


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Posted by Easy Does It
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jul 23, 2013 at 2:06 pm

Tasers? Surveillance cameras on our streets? Automated license plate readers? Government spying on innocent residents going about their business in our quiet little suburb?
Sounds more like East Germany under the Stasi.

Remember our Constitutional protections, and what they were intended to protect us from, i.e. tyrannical government!

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Posted by Downtowner
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 23, 2013 at 3:20 pm

Yes to redlight cameras. If the threat of an expensive ticket is what it takes to keep late left-turners in check, I'm all for them. At least half the time I'm on El Camino, waiting for a green light to go straight, once I get a green, at least 2 but usually 3 & occasionally 4 cars, run their light & make left turns across my bow. Annoying but more importantly, dangerous.

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Posted by Ben
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jul 23, 2013 at 3:41 pm

Funny how the hypocrites don't want redlight cameras, but want license plate readers, drones with the ability to see in your backyards and windows, and other forms of intrusive surveillance. Where do they draw the line? At drones with see-thru-wall vision? Justify the hypocrisy.

Right to privacy IN OUR PERSONS.

Funny dat.

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Posted by Kathy
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jul 23, 2013 at 4:10 pm

I also share the concern for privacy within our fair city. Are these license readers and four additional cameras really needed? I thought the existing camera evidence was not conclusive that they really were helping our traffic situation. If not, please do not add more--or remove existing cameras from intersections which haven't made a significant difference in accidents and maybe have 2 or 3 total in town, placed at strategic intersections where there has been an accident problem. Please don't make the opportunity for additional city revenue the determining factor.

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Posted by Ben
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jul 23, 2013 at 4:24 pm

Kathy - if you read the other forum, you will see a certain prolific poster tell everyone we need our privacy invaded at every opportunity because of all the library bombings in Menlo Park ('but if someone dropped off a bomb at the library') Web Link see Jul 18, 2013 at 1:33 pm

No lie. I couldn't make it up if I tried. That was his reason.

Followed by another [portion deleted] who said he's willing to give up everyone's civil rights because he thinks he isn't doing anything wrong.

Can you believe it?

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Posted by Steve Taffee
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jul 23, 2013 at 6:46 pm

The City Council and Menlo Park PD should reach out to privacy organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation for their input into reasonable data retention policies. It's not easy to stuff the genie back in the bottle once released.

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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Jul 24, 2013 at 10:19 pm

Here's a fun article re red light cameras & struggles in dealing w/them. Web Link

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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 25, 2013 at 7:16 am

Yet another reason to eliminate red light cameras:

But more important: "Rear-end accidents increase significantly because people come to a screeching halt," Hayward Police Chief Diane Urban said to "There's no proven correlation between red-light camera systems and consistently decreasing crashes." Rear-end collisions increased in most intersections with red-light cameras, although alternatives to cameras—such as increasing the duration of yellow lights by 0.2 to 0.3 seconds on some intersections—have reduced both crashes as well as the number of automated tickets.

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Posted by where is the LINE
a resident of another community
on Jul 25, 2013 at 11:41 am

back to surveillance

Funny thing about those that think bi intrusive governments get to get away with all this - they never offer an explanation of what is "too much".

Is it too much if the government points a camera from the street, points it onto your 'property'? Drones flying overhead and recording everything, including your back yard? Wall piercing vision devices on a drone?

If you think massive collection and storage of license plate data is okay, then please tell me where you draw the line.

Pending your rational answer, I'll stick with the ACLU.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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