Newsom announces contract to install nearly 500 car-tracking cameras in and around Oakland

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The California Highway Patrol and the Oakland Police Department have signed a contract to install nearly 500 cameras in Oakland and on nearby highways to help track vehicles suspected of involvement in crimes, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office announced Friday.

Under the contract with Flock Safety, the first cameras will be installed within the next 30 days, Newsom spokesperson Izzy Gardon said. He said 290 will be installed on surface streets in Oakland and an additional 190 will be installed on nearby highways.

The cameras are similar to license plate reader cameras but have an additional ability to identify vehicles by characteristics like make, model and color as well as details such as bumper stickers and roof racks. Police can put out an alert for cars matching a particular description — a white Honda Civic with covered plates, for example — and track vehicles driving in the area through the camera network in real time, Gardon said.

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“This investment marks another step forward in our commitment to bolstering public safety and tackling organized crime and roadway violence in Oakland and across California,” Newsom wrote in a statement. “With the installation of this 480 high-tech camera network, we’re equipping law enforcement with the tools they need to effectively combat criminal activity and hold perpetrators accountable.”

The announcement is the latest example of Newsom taking a hands-on approach in Oakland in response to an uptick in crime and concern about public safety. In the past six months, he has deployed CHP officers into Oakland to crack down on thefts and sent attorneys from the California National Guard and the California Department of Justice to help Alameda County prosecute more people. The moves are part of a tougher stance on crime that Newsom has taken in the past couple of years.

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