Thursday, June 12, 2008

More Bus Surveillance Cameras for Folsom Stage Lines

Not too likely, but the Office of Homeland Security created by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is the source of grant money Folsom will get for bus-surveillance cameras.

The city is approved to receive $24,000 to fund cameras on Folsom Stage Lines, wrote Rich Lorenz, public works director, in a recent report to City Council members. Folsom would have to file twice-yearly progress reports with the state on the cameras’ effectiveness.

Studies in other cities haven’t necessarily found bus cameras helping catch suspected terrorists, but they have found that “cameras have deterred vandalism and graffiti (and) provide the ability to monitor dangerous passenger loading situations, view ticketing processes and record unauthorized entry into the buses,” Lorenz wrote.

The city of West Covina’s community services department issued a report stating that a video system could help in investigations, as well as prevent some transit problems.

“It is likely that the purchase and installation of a transit-wide surveillance system would help to deter problem passenger behaviors,” the report noted. “The use of a transit surveillance system would also improve customer service because passenger concerns could be more thoroughly investigated.”

London has gone to a total of 6,000 cameras around its underground rail system, which was the site of bomb attacks.

However, transit surveillance cameras are not without their critics.

Barry Steinhardt, director of the technology and liberty project for the American Civil Liberties Union, has called surveillance cameras “foolish law enforcement,” suggesting that even beyond the question of passenger liberties, video surveillance creates a displacement effect for criminal behavior, moving crime from within a camera’s view to outside its reach.

Folsom’s cameras will create some paperwork for city officials.

“Failure to submit performance reports could result in the reduction of project funds, termination or suspension,” wrote Matthew Bettenhausen, state Office of Homeland Security director, in an April 22 letter to city officials.

The Telegraph’s Roger Phelps can be reached at, or post a comment at

Monday, June 09, 2008

Bus Camera Catches Mob Attack on Teen


MILWAUKEE -- Four teenagers have been arrested, accused in a mob beating that was caught on tape on a county bus in Milwaukee.

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke said the attack was similar to what happened to Charlie Young, a man who was beaten to death by 15 young men in 2002.

The victim in this attack is going to be fine, but Clarke said the video should be a wakeup call to the county board and the school the suspects attend.

The video shows a 15-year-old student from St. Charles alternative school being attacked by at least five of his classmates.

As the boys, 15 and 16 years old, punched and kicked the boy, others on the bus gathered close. One of them climbed up on the overhead hand rails for a better look.

Clarke said the tape of the beating, which happened last Thursday, turned up in a review of security incidents on the transit system. He said the transit security contractor, Wackenhut, should have informed police right away.

He said he also blamed the school, which caters to students expelled for behavior problems in other schools. Clarke said this is just one of 30 documented incidents on buses this year involving students at St. Charles.

"They are a menace. These anti-social, undisciplined criminal males have been placed at St. Charles because they have been kicked out of mostly (Milwaukee public schools) because their disruptive behavior is not compatible with an orderly environment necessary for learning," Clarke said.

Some bus riders agreed that more needs to be done to beef up bus security in light of this beating and the recent beating of a bus driver in which the prime suspect was also a St. Charles student.

"I've seen a lot of swearing on the bus, arguing, bus drivers not taking any chances to tell them to be quiet. There's a lot of things on the bus that shouldn't be and a lot of kids are getting away with it and they shouldn't," bus passenger Demitrice Harmon said.

Four of the five suspects have been arrested and deputies are tracking down the fifth, police said. They have not yet been charged.

The victim had only minor injuries, authorities said.