BART is not the only one with a security camera problem. According to CBS 5, Oakland city officials are scrambling this week to replace broken and dummy cameras across the city after it came to light that many of the purported surveillance devices are in fact inoperable.
The revelation followed a tragic crime that struck Fruitvale late last month. When two people were murdered in Cesar Chavez Park on August 30, CBS 5 reports that the sister of one of the victims held out hope the killer would be found because the park was supposed to be under 24-hour-video surveillance. However, after speaking with police, she learned that the cameras had not been working for years.
Celaniz Vigil told the channel that police gave her a slew of excuses — “they don’t have enough memory on their database," she said police explained. "And then one story was that they’re just not working, that they’ve been tampered with. And then another story was that they were blacked out.”
But it's not just the cameras that failed to capture her brother's death that don't work — a fact Oakland city councilman Noel Gallo admitted to the channel. “We have certain cameras located in certain places to record illegal dumping hotspots,” he explained. “The camera is there, but they’re not recording anything.”
Gallo says the city has purchased working cameras to replace the decoy ones, and has a plan to fix all the busted ones as well — including in Cesar Chavez Park. That, of course, is too little too late for Vigil's brother who, along with Shawn Chatman, were shot while on their knees — right in front of the busted cameras.
The story calls to mind the January shooting aboard a BART train in West Oakland that everyone assumed would have been captured on one of the train's surveillance cameras, only to find out that the vast majority of cameras in the BART system are either decoys or broken. BART then pledged to install real ones, but it remains unclear if that project is complete. At the time, CBS 5 spoke to a security firm that said that most businesses also employ decoy cameras to deter crime, and they tend to be functional only about 15 percent of the time.