PITTSBURG (CBS SF) — Gunfire has erupted on Bay Area freeways more than 100 times in the past 2 years. Now police are fighting back with a new surveillance system.
Cameras that would record traffic going by, read license plates of passing cars, and listen for gunfire may help reduce the number of shootings along the freeways.
This has been in the works for almost a year, and thanks to money from Caltrans, it’s finally happening.
The Pittsburg police chief says a network of cameras on city streets is deterring shootings there, but the interstates and highways are a different story.
Pittsburg police Chief Brian Addington said, “They’re shooting on the freeways for a lot of reasons, including there are not cameras. People don’t hear gunshots at that speed.”
However, thanks to $3.5 million from Caltrans, Interstate 80 from Richmond to Highway 4, and then Highway 4 into Antioch will be outfitted with surveillance cameras, license plate readers, and microphones that identify gunshots.
Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton said, “We should not have our citizens driving on the freeway with fear that shots could be fired at any time.”
That’s why the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office organized the efforts to get the cameras.
Police chiefs in Pittsburg, Antioch, Richmond, San Pablo, and Pinole agreed to the cameras. They say that right now it is almost impossible to catch the people responsible for the rash of freeway shootings or even collect evidence.
Addington said bullet casings are very difficult for law enforcement officials to find.
The idea right now is for Pittsburg police to oversee the network since they already have a monitoring center for a similar city-wide camera network.
The Pittsburg City Council will need to agree to that at their meeting next Monday.