A spate of armed home invasion robberies in Piedmont has residents asking if the roads linking Piedmont to Oakland should be surveilled by video cameras.
“Time to install CCTV around town, especially at the streets leading into town with a big sign that says "SMILE, you've just entered Piedmont" London used them to crack down on the IRA, we need them to protect our residents from the criminals from Oakland. Either that or its time we all gun-up, ” wrote a commenter named Roberto on Piedmont Patch Wednesday.
The precise number of closed-circuit television cameras in London is not publicly known, but a privacy rights group called Big Brother Watch estimates that there are 51,000 police-run cameras in London and other urban areas in Great Britain.
Closer to Piedmont than London, Tiburon placed cameras on the two roads leading to town in 2010. A year later, Tiburon cops were lauding the license plate-reading technology as essential in solving a burglary and reducing crime in the Marin County community by 30 percent.
Tiburon’s peninsular geography makes its use of video cameras more effective and practical than in other towns. For the most part, local law enforcement in Northern California relies on a jumble of private and public video cameras, rather than a centralized police-run system like the one in London.
For example, police tried to identify suspects with video captured by a camera on an AC Transit bus after a fatal shooting at the Bay Fair BART station Saturday afternoon. In San Ramon, police asked residents this week if they would be willing to register their private security cameras so police know they’re there when investigating a nearby crime.
Judging by a street map of Piedmont and Oakland, it looks as if two dozen cameras could accomplish the job of monitoring every road crossing the Piedmont line. What do you think? Would cameras make the city safer, or would they violate the privacy of residents and visitors?