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Palo Verde Valley Blythe/Quartzsite Times | Blythe, California and Quartzsite, Arizona

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10/4/2012 5:00:00 PM
Citywide surveillance system being installed

Marty Bachman

BLYTHE - Blythe city officials are installing a citywide surveillance system to monitor and track traffic and pedestrian activity at several major intersections in town.

According to the Blythe Police Department public information officer Lt. Bob Matthews, cameras, radio antennas and other equipment will be installed at Hobsonway and Seventh Street, Hobsonway and Broadway, Hobsonway and Lovekin, and at Chanslorway and Broadway.

Matthews said an additional installation is tentatively slated for Lovekin and 14th Avenue, and a mobile version will be installed on the Police Department's impaired driver checkpoint trailer.

"This system will be used to capture evidence of crimes and traffic accidents to assist officers in solving cases" said Blythe Police Chief Steve Smith. "With all the budget cuts and less officers on the street, this is just another tool to assist us in doing our job more efficiently."

The project is funded in whole by a grant from FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security. Sue Sites of Blythe is the local vendor on the project and is supplying the equipment and installation.

Matthews, in an email, said that should more grant money be made available, additional locations are slated to cover the area of the high school, 14th Avenue and it's intersections with Lovekin, Broadway and Seventh Street, and Chanslorway would have its coverage extended to Seventh Street. Also, the intersection of Hobsonway and Highway 95 would have cameras.

"We will also look at other areas which provide escape routes from the city or any other area where they might assist in curbing criminal activity," Matthews wrote.

He said the three Hobsonway locations were chosen because Hobsonway is the main artery through the city and the intersections cover the main ingress and egress paths to the freeway as well as the main north/south roadway in the central business district.

The Chanslorway and Broadway location was initially slated for Chanslorway and Lovekin but was moved due to power requirements. The Broadway location allows for monitoring of the Margaret White School area, the library, the community center, the northern portion of Todd Park as well as Chanslorway, which is a secondary east/west roadway.

He said that the range of the cameras is affected by several variables.

"With the fixed cameras, in the daylight, the tests we have run have good clarity out a block or two for vehicles," he wrote. "People have to be closer for identifications. Obviously, the larger the object, the further you can see it. So you might be able to tell there is a single subject walking a block or two away, while if there is a large group, the distance could increase. At night the distances and clarity are slightly less. The digital pan/tilt/zoom cameras have not gone on-line yet but I would expect much better distance."

Matthews said that the system will not be monitored for speeding or other traffic violations, however, the recordings can be accessed if there was a dispute over right of way, direction of travel or driver's actions, such as might be found in a traffic collision investigation or to supplement an officers physical observations.

The system is based on wireless networking technology and each location will have fixed cameras trained on the roadways to monitor traffic and vehicles. Each major intersection will also have a remotely controlled camera that can be deployed toward areas where there are calls for service or suspected criminal activity. The system is designed to be monitored from the existing Police Department dispatch center.

The system is also designed to interface with the proposed Palo Verde Valley Transit surveillance system, which will cover bus routes, stops and facilities. When inter-connected, the transit system safety center and the city will be able to monitor each other's systems.

Matthews said that while the city would like to stream the whole system online, the bandwidth necessary would be cost prohibitive.

"At this time we are looking at making updating screen grabs from the cameras available," he wrote.

The initial equipment grant was for $55,764.96. The total project is expected to cost approximately $100,000, however, the funds would have to come from grant money slated specifically for this project.

The system is expected to be up and running by the middle of October 2012.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, October 5, 2012
Article comment by: Freeway Fred

What I would like to know PVVT, is what the heck are those becon looking things along the middle of the freeway, spaced about every mile or so, with a solar panel on the top of it???

Posted: Friday, October 5, 2012
Article comment by: Court Jester

People who give up liberty in the name of security deserves niether.

Posted: Friday, October 5, 2012
Article comment by: Misty L

It always feels like...Somebodys watching me.... Cant get no privacy....oh oh.... (its a song kids)

Posted: Friday, October 5, 2012
Article comment by: John Smith

@Mr. Mossberg

You sir, are a tool and seeing you congratulate FEMA and DHS on further implementing a surveillance police state here in our small town turns my stomach.

Criminals do not care if they are being filmed or not, they are idiots and will conduct their business regardless. This $100,000 surveillance system can be thwarted by a $2 ski mask from K-Mart.

The founding fathers are rolling in their graves.

"Those that give up their freedoms for safety deserve neither"
-Benjamin Franklin

Posted: Friday, October 5, 2012
Article comment by: EL PICA BUYAS

@AJ McCay. You are 100% right. Will these cameras take whole video all of the time or will take time lapse video like every 2 to 4 minutes. If the system is not use to it's full potential then why bother with it. Another thing the system is only as good as the operator. But what I understand is that the only time they will look at the video is when something happens. In that case the police department should have sent two or three officers to traffic school to learn to investigate traffic accidents. Another white elephant like the sign the city paid 25,000 dollars for. In that case the city should have contracted one of those outfits that install speeding traffic cameras and it would have been free. They could still look at the video when needed. But the good old boy club at work here. They should have place and add in the papers for bids. But NO.

Posted: Friday, October 5, 2012
Article comment by: The Shadow knows

I just the next thing we look foward to is traffic cameras, because our triffic is so bad up town, and people seems to run every redlight in town.....just what I want my tax money to go to. And yes GRANT money is tax money, where do you think it comes from the tax fairy.

Posted: Friday, October 5, 2012
Article comment by: Booger Red

Street Cops are not gonna like that too much! Gonna have to find new places to "smoke up" out of sight.

Posted: Friday, October 5, 2012
Article comment by: Just Curiouse

Just curiouse, How much is the city Paying Sue Sites or this equipment and instalation?? If it going to cost double the amount we have been given maybe she should come down a bit on her prices, so we could get the other cameras installed . I''m sure she bid on that fairly right? But Why werent all the cameras and installatoins put together for this . Now Im not accusing Sue Sites ofover charging , I am just wondering about a few things. So I briefly looked into some articles and they all agree on a few things. Read the article at: and see for yourself and know your rights people. Its very important that you do.

Posted: Friday, October 5, 2012
Article comment by: AJ McCay

I know people who install this type of equipment for a living and can guarantee you that it does not cost what this article states. Since it was used with grant money by the city the cost should be public records with model numbers of the products used. I suggest someone look into it. Also, how come Blythe doesn't take bids for this work? They can say it's to keep money in Blythe. The money is going into the pocket of one business.

Posted: Thursday, October 4, 2012
Article comment by: Mr. Mossberg

Now thatís 21st century thinking. I believe that the City officials of Blythe have made a great decision in implementing a surveillance system, to help discourage crime and better identify the bad guys. Itís this kind of thinking that will help get our community back on its feet and down the right path. Hats off to the City officials and to FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security for making this possible.

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