Buena Park residents can expect to see more surveillance video cameras along Beach Boulevard and city parks this summer following the City Council’s approval of a $300,000 security camera installation project.
The council voted unanimously to expand surveillance, a decision that some residents said is not a good use of taxpayers’ money. While others welcome the cameras for increased security, they have reservations about the capacity to monitor and review footage.
City officials hope the additional cameras will aid in both solving and deterring crimes. The decision to add cameras comes after the city was awarded funds from the county for increased security cameras.
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The project, funded by the American Rescue Plan Act money provided by the office of Orange County Supervisor Doug Chaffee, will place additional cameras along Beach Boulevard, north of Interstate 5, and up to the Buena Park and La Mirada border at Rosecrans Avenue.
Additional surveillance coverage will also be installed at these city parks: William Peak Park, George Bellis Park and Boisseranc Park. In addition, the entrance of the regional county-run Ralph B. Clark Park will get cameras, according to a city staff report.
Buena Park has a total of 12 parks, including county-run parks. The three parks listed in the staff report will be the first to have surveillance cameras installed.
Sixteen cameras will be installed at eight traffic signal locations, including the entrance of Ralph B. Clark Park. Fourteen cameras will be split between the other three park locations, making it a total of 30 new cameras in the city.
There are currently cameras installed along Beach Boulevard between Orangthrope and Crescent avenues, a project the City Council approved in 2018 according to the staff report.
The three parks were chosen based on the volume of crime reports and 911 calls, Councilmember Connor Traut said in an interview.
Councilmember Susan Sonne echoed the sentiment and added that she met with residents near Peak Park that had been dealing with crime, noise disturbances and speeding cars for nearly a year.
“I felt the need for the neighborhoods around the park to be able to have a peaceful existence around the park and this will assist with that,” Sonne said.
Both Traut and Sonne said the cameras would be used to solve crimes.
“It’s a good opportunity for us to expand and try to provide more safety to the citizens of Buena Park,” Lt. Ryan Dieringer, Buena Park Police Department public information officer, said in an interview after the late February City Council meeting where the council approved the new cameras.
Dieringer said that if a crime is in progress, the department can get officers dispatched and have a better understanding of the situation. The only people who have access to cameras are the watch commanders and dispatchers, Dieringer added that the police department does not necessarily have the time to regularly watch the cameras so they will not increase the number of people monitoring the surveillance footage in real-time.
“At the same time, use it as a detective tool to go back and maybe, hopefully, locate suspects or criminals who do commit crimes,” Dieringer said.
Kyle Risser, a long-time Buena Park resident, said he does not think additional cameras are a good use of taxpayer money.
“Something happens, they’re going to look at the cameras, and what if someone’s wearing a mask? It’s just going to be a waste of resources and time in my opinion,” Risser said in an interview.
In August 2022, Buena Park was awarded $500,000 through the American Rescue Plan Act with funds from Supervisor Chaffee’s Office and the County of Orange for added security cameras and lighting upgrades around the city to “promote an increase in safety and security for the community,” according to a press release.
In an interview, Buena Park City Manager Aaron France said that the entire grant has been accounted for and in addition to the security cameras, the remaining $200,000 was used for security lighting in the three selected parks and along Beach Boulevard.
The cameras will store 60 days of recordings at each site and will be accessed from the Buena Park Police Department’s server room. Dieringer said, however, that they currently only keep six days of footage per current policy.
Rose Garcia, a Buena Park resident of 17 years, thinks cameras are a good idea so that crime or events can be recorded. However, Garcia said recordings should be saved for more than six days and should be kept for at least a month.
Buena Park’s new cameras, for both Beach Boulevard and the parks, are slated to be installed by June.
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