VIDEO: State officials to help pay for surveillance cameras along East Bay highways plagued by freeway shootings

 

HERCULES (KRON) — State officials say they will help pay for a network of surveillance cameras along East Bay highways plagued by an alarming increase in violence.

There is a wide-held belief that if cameras and surveillance equipment are installed along Interstate 80 and Highway 4, it will deter crime on the roadway and help law enforcement catch suspects when there is a problem.

Now, that system is closer to being a reality.

Over the past two years, there have been dozens of shootings along Interstate 80 and Highway 4 between Richmond and Antioch. Eight people have been killed and dozens injured in what is believed to be gang violence that has spilled over onto the roadways.

Now, the California State Transportation Agency has agreed to help build a surveillance network that will hopefully deter the violence.

The specifics of the plan are still being worked out, but the network will most likely include wireless cameras, license plate readers, and possibly ShotSpotters, which can detect gunfire.

The network would be most likely monitored from a control center, which is already up and running in Pittsburg.

It’s now up to a task force made up of the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office and law enforcement agencies from across the county to design the system and submit a funding request to the state.

Early estimates have put the cost of the project somewhere between $800,000 and $2 million.

Dan Romero sits on the Hercules City Council. He and other elected officials from cities along 80 and Highway 4 have been asking the state for help for more than a year.

He’s thrilled that progress is finally being made.

“I’m happy to hear the news, but I won’t be satisfied until I see the cameras installed,” Romero said.

But there are still a lot of unanswered questions, including once it’s finished, who will pay to keep the surveillance network running?

“Is this going to be an ongoing cost that the State of California is going to be paying?” Romero said. “Because somewhere along the line, the City of Pittsburg has to be reimbursed for manning the station and accepting the data.”

In the meantime, Romero remains cautiously optimistic that this project will be completed.

“I think the important part about the freeway camera system for myself and others is are we able to travel on Interstate 80 and not have to worry?” Romero said.

Finally, state transportation officials tell KRON4 they are expecting to receive a funding request from Contra Costa County in a few weeks, and the best case scenario is the cameras could start going up later this year.

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