New Police Cameras on 23rd Street Corridor

From left to right: Don Lau, Detective Hector Esparza, Captain Mark Gagan, Rafael Madrigal.

For years, merchants and neighborhoods along 23rd Street in Richmond have been calling for more help in combatting break-ins, prostitution and vandalism in their burgeoning business district. At the same time, the Richmond Police Department was working to expand its network of live-monitored street cameras that improve response times to incidents and collect evidence. Bringing together those interests took time and work, but 4Richmond Coalition Chair Don Lau announced Nov. 13 that six new cameras will be added to the network this month, covering 23rd Street from Roosevelt Avenue to the San Pablo city limit. The additional cameras will bring the total number in the citywide network to 44. “This is all about partnership — police, business, the community, all coming together as one,” Lau said at a press conference at Richmond Build on 23rd Street. “By working together, we can make a difference on the issues that matter most to Richmond.” The 23rd Street Merchants Association approached the City of Richmond and Chevron two years ago about funding cameras and related equipment. Chevron donated three cameras, and the city purchased three cameras, but only two were able to be installed. The cameras draw power from light poles, and some of the older poles on 23rd Street contained antiqued wiring that would damage the sensitive cameras. “Unfortunately, things progressed a little slowly,” said Rafael Madrigal, president of the 23rd Street Merchants. “We pushed and pushed. And, fortunately, then along came 4Richmond.” This fall, the 4Richmond Coalition worked with the Police and Environmental Initiatives Division of the City Manager’s Office in conjunction with the Engineering Department to help bring civic focus back to the project. The city is now including 23rd Street in a larger renovation of streetlight wiring, which means the remaining four cameras can be installed by the end of November. The cameras will help police focus efforts fighting crimes that concern local merchants, said Detective Hector Esparza. “It has been a hugely successful program. The cameras have helped in solving homicides and many other crimes,” Esparza said. “It’s all about keeping the public safe — and these cameras help.”
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