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