City of Los Angeles deploys video surveillance cameras to fight crime

The Los Angeles Police Department is installing wireless surveillance systems around the city to battle crime and improve officers’ productivity (first deployments in the Mission, Foothill and Southwest area stations, then to other parts of LA). They are using Wi4Net, a division of CelPlan Technologies (a provider of integrated wireless broadband and surveillance solutions) for the project.

Several years ago, the City identified the need for surveillance cameras to support its police operations. Upon review of local deployments, such as Long Beach, and upon research of available technologies and solutions, the City created its “Wireless Camera Surveillance System” (WCSS) program to support its police area stations.

Here are a few stories from the police department:

  • A vehicle was parked at the gas pumps of a local gas station. The police department’s camera operator observed a suspect vandalize the gas pumps by etching graffiti onto one of the gas pumps. The camera operator was able to zoom in on the suspect’s face and on the license plate of his vehicle. The suspect was subsequently arrested for vandalism.
  • A male suspect wearing all dark clothing standing outside of a local restaurant. The suspect appeared to be conducting narcotics transactions. The suspect raised his arms in a stretching motion which revealed the butt of a handgun from his waist band which was seen from the camera room. Officers made contact with the suspect which revealed the suspect was carrying a replica pellet gun. Without the help of the cameras in place, it would have been nearly impossible to observe the suspect carrying the replica gun or to observe the narcotics transaction.
  • A detective who was monitoring the camera system observed suspects smoking narcotics and exchanging money. Officers made contact with the suspects and inside the suspects’ vehicle the officers discovered approximately three backpacks in plain sight with hundreds of pirated DVD’s inside. After an investigation was conducted, the pirated DVD’s, and a large sum of US Currency consistent was confiscated. The quantity of the currency was consistent with the sales of pirated DVD’s.
  • Camera operators observed a vehicle parked near gas pumps at a local gas station and saw a front passenger of the vehicle holding a syringe. The passenger then handed the syringe to the driver. One of the individuals in the vehicle left the vehicle and walked to the rear restroom of the gas station. Officers went to the location and took the suspects into custody. Officers also recovered heroin from the suspect driver and arrested him for Possession of a Controlled Substance.

Making use of the licensed 4.9 GHz band, specifically set aside for public safety uses, the camera units can be deployed with great flexibility throughout the vast area of the City’s jurisdiction. The FlexiVideo pole camera units, provided as part of the program, feature H.264 recording, 1 TB of local storage for long-term, redundant recording and battery back-up.

Q&A about the LA police department wireless surveillance system

Q: How many cameras are being used?

A: In the initial deployment, Mission has nine cameras, Foothill has eight, and Southwest has six cameras.But as more funding becomes available, the police department will add cameras.

Q: Where are the cameras installed?

A: Based on funding, the cameras are placed in the highest priority locations, typically spread throughout the areas of jurisdiction of the police department area stations. The physical installation makes use of light poles and traffic light poles.

Q: How large is the area of surveillance?

A: Cameras are deployed throughout entire areas of jurisdiction (of specific area stations). Areas can be quite large, with just individual (wireless) links over 3 miles.

Q: Where did the city get money for this project?

A: The money came from private and community redevelopment funds.