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The $615,000 the Sacramento Police Department will spend to purchase security cameras and related surveillance equipment comes from a pot of federal Homeland Security funds.
Mayor Kevin Johnson said earlier this week the surveillance equipment may be used at K Street and at Regional Transit stations.
But what is the connection between the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Sacramento sites such as K Street and the local light rail stations?
Sgt. Norm Leong of the Sacramento Police Department said terrorism is a Homeland Security concern, but other threats fall under the definition of “Homeland Security,” as well.
“Transit hubs are naturally potential targets for terrorism,” Leong said.
Leong emphasized that the “homeland security” definition includes threats such as natural disasters, threats to public transit, and threats to high-traffic areas where mass incidents can occur.
He noted that the term “terrorism” isn’t limited to violence from other countries, adding that the 1995 Oklahoma City Bombing case was an example of domestic terrorism.
Major events and crowds can potentially draw terrorists, including in Sacramento, Leong said.
Federal funds will pay for the city’s new surveillance equipment, but the funds were awarded to Sacramento by the state. The California Emergency Management Agency receives federal Homeland Security funds, which it doles out to local governments.
The surveillance equipment system Sacramento will buy with the funds includes 32 cameras and four mobile surveillance trailers, according to a copy of the Sacramento Police Department’s request to the state.
Precise locations for the equipment have not yet been selected, but Johnson said Monday that K Street and Regional Transit stations were the kinds of high -traffic and high -crime sites suitable for the new cameras.
The police department will work with the City Council and the public to choose sites, Sacramento Police Chief Rick Braziel said earlier this week.
Jay Alan, communications director for the California Emergency Management Agency, said the Homeland Security funds are used for multiple hazards that include terrorism prevention. He cited earthquake prevention and mitigation, and port security as some of the programs that are part of the Homeland Security program.
Asked about Sacramento’s light rail stations, Alan pointed out past terrorist events involving transit, such as the 2004 attacks on trains in Madrid, and the 2005 attacks on the London Metro.
Alan also echoed Leong’s comments, saying that if the city used surveillance equipment along the city’s Regional Transit stations, the equipment could possibly prevent terrorism.
The state gave the money to the city of Sacramento because the city’s project fit the Homeland Security guidelines, which apply to counterterrorism as well as to other security events, Alan said.
The surveillance equipment the city will purchase will also be used as a deterrent for crime and as an investigative tool, Alan said.
The city will hold a procurement process for the cameras and the other surveillance equipment, said Konrad VonSchoech, a spokesman for the Sacramento Police Department.
Kathleen Haley is a staff reporter for the Sacramento Press.