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Long Beach police to monitor boardwalk with security cameras

Officials say the cameras are meant to deter

Officials say the cameras are meant to deter crime on the boardwalk. Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

Leave your dogs and skateboards at home this summer — Long Beach police will soon be watching the boardwalk through security cameras.

The second phase of the citywide security program starts this summer with cameras being installed on the boardwalk between Long Beach and National boulevards and the license-plate reader program being expanded at a cost of $260,000.

Surveillance video images won’t result in police writing tickets to people with dogs and skateboards — both of which are prohibited on the boardwalk — but their presence in the city’s busiest area will serve as a deterrent, officials said.

“I think people behave more responsibly when they’re being videotaped,” Long Beach Police Commissioner Michael Tangney said Tuesday.

Skateboarding has become more common since the boardwalk was rebuilt with concrete in 2013 after Superstorm Sandy destroyed the old wood structure, Tangney said. The goal is to add security cameras to the to the rest of the boardwalk next year, he said.

Additionally, officers have started patrolling the boardwalk in small electric cars to monitor public safety and any violations after what Tangney called a “dog and skateboard epidemic.”

City officials in coming years may also add cameras to all city garages, sanitation and utility buildings and city parks, Tangney said. Officials previously added cameras to every elevator and hallway entrance on the six floors of City Hall. Tangney said he would like to add a metal detector to the entrance and secure access to certain floors after hours.

“It’s the time and the world we live in,” Tangney said. “I think it’s imperative to make the city as safe as possible for our workers and the community.”

All patrol cars have been equipped with license plate readers since 2006, but stationary plate readers being installed around the city can read 2,000 plates per hour, Tangney said. The data will only be used internally and kept for 120 to 180 days, he said.

“The important thing the public needs to know is that this is for police information only,” Tangney said at last week’s city council meeting. “This is not a Big Brother thing. It’s to help us catch bad guys and help us locate missing children.”

The images collected by the cameras can be checked against a state motor vehicles department database of license plate numbers wanted for violations ranging from expired registrations, suspended licenses and uninsured drivers to more serious criminal acts, or to find stolen vehicles. Long Beach police also upload their data for wanted vehicles or cars under investigation, Tangney said.

The license plate readers will prioritize the most serious crimes for officers on patrol, who receive notifications such as a siren sound indicating a stolen vehicle or the sound of a crying baby for an Amber Alert.

“By expanding the use of this existing technology, the city will be able to more efficiently use our current police resources,” City Councilman Scott Mandel said in a statement.

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