Governor Newsom to Unleash Nearly 500 Cameras to Help Combat Crime in Oakland

By: Alex Trent | Published: Mar 30, 2024

On Friday, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced the deployment of hundreds of advanced surveillance cameras in the city of Oakland. This move comes in response to various incidents of crime in the city that are gaining increasing visibility.

Officials hope that the installation of these cameras will provide authorities with the ability to track crime suspects’ vehicles in real time.

Newsom Statement

In a statement published March 29th by the governor’s office, Newsom outlined what he called a “high-tech camera network.”

A man in a dark suit and blue tie stands behind a wooden podium, speaking earnestly

Source: Wikimedia Commons

The statement goes on to describe the hope that the installation of these high-tech cameras will provide law enforcement with “real-time information and alerts” critical to identifying criminal vehicles.


480 Cameras

Newsom announced that this camera network would contain 480 cameras and would be deployed in Oakland and the East Bay area.

An art piece featuring a camera.

Tobias Tullius

“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 — building safer, stronger communities for all Californians,” Newsom said.

Holding People Accountable

The mayor of Oakland Sheng Thao was also quoted in the statement thanking Newsom and California Highway Patrol.

View of downtown Oakland's skyline featuring various buildings with the Oakland Bay Bridge

Source: Wikimedia Commons

“This new camera network will help us stop crime and hold more suspects accountable. On behalf of all Oaklanders, I want to thank the Governor and the California Highway Patrol for their ongoing commitment and investments in the city,” said Thao.

California Highway Patrol

The commissioner of the California Highway Patrol (CHP) Sean Duryee, also weighed in on the camera network, making the CHP’s commitments known.

A Chevrolet Camaro California Highway Patrol vehicle driving on the road.

Source: Raymond Wambsgans/Wikimedia

Duryee said “Working alongside all our law enforcement partners, the California Highway Patrol is committed to ensuring the safety and security of all Californians. These sophisticated cameras will make an important difference — and make the entire East Bay region safer.”

Patented Technology

The statement spells out the benefits these cameras will have to various government authorities and agencies.

An Oakland police officer stands near a silver SUV parked in front of a house.

Source: U.S. Marshals Service/Wikimedia

“The camera network will use a patented technology that allows law enforcement agencies to identify vehicle attributes beyond license plate numbers, enabling the CHP, the Oakland Police Department, and allied agencies to search for vehicles suspected to be linked to crimes and receive real-time alerts about their movement,” the statement said.


Crime Problem

The city of Oakland has been undergoing a spike in various types of crimes recently. In January, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that violent incidents in Oakland rose by 21% in 2023. The number of robberies in the city skyrocketed by 38% and the number of burglaries by 23%.

A car's back window has been busted out by a criminal who grabbed items out of the back of the vehicle.

Source: Mx. Granger

For two years in a row, Oakland had 120 homicide cases. According to the Chronicle report, one in every 30 Oakland residents had a car stolen in 2023.


Resident Fears

People living in Oakland are afraid of the growing incidents of theft, violence, and other crimes in the city. Groups of safety advocates and business owners have in the past called for a strike after being fed up with the growing amount of thefts taking place in recent months.

A street intersection in Oakland’s Chinatown district.

Mliu92/Wikimedia Commons

Some residents are afraid that this latest spike in crime will come to be associated with the city’s reputation in the minds of Californians and other Americans.


Newsom’s Actions

Governor Newsom has taken previous actions to provide support to the residents of Oakland. In February, he announced the deployment of an additional 120 CHP officers. This move came in response to local business owners begging for help in tackling the problem.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom wearing sunglasses and a white button up shirt

Source: Wikimeida Commons

“What’s happening in this beautiful city and surrounding area is alarming and unacceptable,” Newsom said.


Damaging Oakland

Nigel Jones is a resident who runs a community food center for low-income families. His food center was vandalized and the glass doors to the center were smashed. Jones is concerned about the string of incidents encouraging people to leave the area.

The Oakland-Fremont skyline. There are some palm trees in the foreground. The main image shows some buildings and trees. The background is a bit hazy.

Source: Howie Mapson/Unsplash

“Residents and businesses have pulled back from the city,” Jones said.


Camera Criticism

Opponents of this latest Newsom camera announcement are worried about how it will invade residents’ privacy. There are also questions about how this camera system will impact the policing of minority communities, who sometimes feel they are unfairly policed.

Police officers from the Oakland police handcuff a suspect

Source: U.S. Marshals Service/Wikimedia

A 2016 study by Stanford found racial disparities in the way Oakland Police conducted itself, saying “thousands of data points found racial disparities in how Oakland Police Department officers treated African Americans on routine traffic and pedestrian stops.”


Delicate Dance

The spike in Oakland crime and other areas in California has put Democrats like Newsom in a precarious position. These Democrats must find a way to strike a balance between maintaining public safety and avoiding “crime crackdowns” and a reliance on police that their Democrat base doesn’t have an appetite for.

Gavin Newsom sits and speaks to others on a virtual meeting in his role as governor of California.

Source: Government of California/Wikimedia

Recently, In-N-Out Burger closed its only restaurant in Oakland due to property damage and theft. It was the first restaurant closure in the company’s 75-year history.