City leaders in Berkeley, Calif. are turning to security surveillance to help mitigate violent gun crime.

The leaders have proposed to install security cameras in areas where gun violence has increased in the city. According to some reports, City Councilmember Terry Taplin, who represents southwest Berkeley, says the uptick in gun violence necessitates proactive measures such as installing surveillance solutions in areas where the crime has been concentrated.

“The City must take immediate steps to address the public safety concerns of West and South Berkeley, which see disproportionate levels of gunfire and traffic violence,” Taplin said in an email.

According to the proposal, there were 35 shootings in 2021 as of September 24, 2021, compared to 24 shootings in the same period in 2020. The Berkeley Police Department has only closed 10 of those investigations with an identified suspect and recovered 70 firearms this year. As of September 24, 35 shootings have occurred in Berkeley in 2021.

In the proposal, city leaders say high-quality images of suspect vehicles would provide valuable investigative leads to assist efforts to bring accountability for violent gun crimes. The cameras, however, would not be equipped with automated license plate readers (ALPR) and would not be monitored. The recordings would specifically be used as investigative resources and effective tools for preventing crimes. 

City leaders estimate the costs to install cameras, signage, and lighting are likely to range from $75,000 to $150,00 per intersection, plus $40,000 annually for data, software, and maintenance. Total costs would vary based on the number of intersections selected. Specifically, city leaders say, total one-time costs for prioritizing seven intersections recommended by the Berkeley Police Department would be $525,000 to $1,050,000 plus ongoing data, software and maintenance costs of $280,000.