At the police department’s communications center, technical engineer Mike Martinez is sitting at a desktop computer with a giant monitor. He’s testing a remote controlled camera system installed on a pole at a street corner across town in Del Paso Heights and he’s zooming in on a moving car.
"I can get down to the license plate if I wanted to."
This isn’t the grainy surveillance video of the past. It’s state-of-the-art crystal clear. Police Chief Albert Najera says it’ll help them reduce crime without violating anyone’s privacy.
"It’s clear that number one what we’re doing here is very legal. We’re only videotaping in public. We’re trying to prevent crime here weren’t not trying to catch somebody."
But Nicole Ozer with the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California says the cameras are too much like Big Brother.
"Once the cameras collect the information you don’t know where it will end up or what it will be used for."
Police will install half-a-dozen cameras at various spots around town during the initial testing phase of the pilot project. If city officials think it’s a success, it could be expanded around spring time.