Oakland police are working with merchants in the city's Fruitvale district to install 100 high-definition video cameras at key spots throughout the neighborhood in an attempt to deter crime and delinquency.
The effort comes in the wake of the April shooting death of Jesus "Chuy" Campos, the owner of the popular Otaez Mexi-Catessen on the corner of International Boulevard and 39th Avenue.
Mayor Jean Quan, Councilmember Ignacio de la Fuente and a host of merchants and police officers gathered at Otaez on Friday afternoon to announce the installation of the cameras and provide an update on the project.
Quan told a crowd of 50 or so that some cameras had already been installed and 30 or so more would go up within the next two weeks. "We're looking to have full coverage," she said. "It's likely that future crime will be caught on camera."
Campos, 58, a father of two children, was shot dead as he was opening the restaurant early April 8. His death was mourned by the community and helped galvanize Fruitvale residents to take more direct action against crime. Police continue to investigate the killing; a $30,000 reward has been offered for information leading to the arrest of his killers.
The video cameras, round devices the size of a grapefruit, will be installed at undisclosed locations up and down Fruitvale Avenue and International Boulevard, as well as other key spots throughout the Fruitvale district. Quan said the precise locations would remain unknown to increase their efficacy. She also brushed off concerns that the proliferation of dozens of cameras in such a dense area would impede people's right to privacy. "This is no different from cameras in malls or any other commercial area," she said.
Merchants have generally supported the effort. Despite a drop in some crimes in Oakland during the past six months, certain areas of the Fruitvale remain what Quan called "hot spots."
"I'm scared, my employees are scared, I don't feel safe," said Darlene Franco, 34, Campos' daughter and a constant presence at Otaez.
Franco said that in the three months since her father's murder, the store was broken into once and another man was shot in front of the restaurant. "We're shaking," she said. "We don't know what to do. This is going to hurt the Fruitvale if something is not done quickly."
Quan said the camera project was weeks in the making, with merchants' groups contributing advice and offering to help monitor the feeds, which will be recorded and stored for 30 days before being disposed of.
In addition to the cameras, Oakland police have established a Police Resource Center, funded with $20,000 from Oakland's Redevelopment Agency and additional grants.