EL CAJON, Calif. — Just one day after San Diego city officials approved the use of 500 Smart Streetlights, the City of El Cajon is gearing up to start using its new cameras to track license plates.
Forty new sets of eyes — by way of surveillance cameras — will soon call the streets of El Cajon home. The cameras will track license plates in real time, an effort police say to get criminals off the streets quicker.
“Time is the biggest impact on our job, time to investigate crimes and having this real-time information to respond immediately to get people in custody or recover stolen property,” said Lt. Jeremiah Larson with the El Cajon Police Department.
Police activated the cameras for a brief test run last week and say in that short time, the cameras tracked two cars that were reported in violent crimes — one was involved in a carjacking and robbery and another was a stolen vehicle.
Police say thanks to the cameras, the suspects were arrested.
“We take public safety very seriously in El Cajon. We have a fully staffed police department and we are doing everything we can to keep things as safe as possible, so that means we’re are going to do everything at our disposal to keep criminals off our streets,” El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells said.
For some people, the new technology feels like an invasion of privacy. Some residents worry the tracking goes too far.
Others, however, say anything that helps keep police keep criminals off the streets, the better.
“I don’t mind it, they’re already tracking us on our cell phone, just an added layer of security, don’t think it’ll impact us in El Cajon,” Charlie Galaviz said.
“I think that’s awesome, less people I have to worry about, the better for my family…the hard working people of El Cajon,” Patricia Joyce said.
Police say the cameras will not track anything but license plates, and that information is deleted after 30 days unless it’s connected to a car involved in a crime.
The cameras are expected to be up and officially running by the end of the month.