Santa Maria adds security with newly installed blue light cameras

Authorities say they've seen a drop in crime

Santa Maria adds security with newly...
SANTA MARIA, Calf. - Small but powerful - these camera pods are helping lower crime for the Santa Maria Police Department under their program called Operation Blue Watch. 
"A specific example - last year we had a shooting and a stabbing that occurred in a neighborhood here in Santa Maria and we soon after moved two camera pods to the neighborhood; since that time, we haven't had any trouble in that neighborhood at all," explains Lieutenant Russ Mengel of the Santa Maria Police Department. 
For the last two years, the city has been using these surveillance cameras with the ultimate goal of having eyes in places where there can't always be an officer.
"We look to the future - when special events like Downtown Friday nights or things like that happen, we can use the cameras to monitor what's going on in the crowd or perhaps to locate certain individuals that are up to no good," Lieutenant Mengel explains. 
The camera pods helps employees like Hope Rodriguez at The Moxie Cafe feel at ease. 
"When we have late shifts it makes us feel a little more comfortable because we have to park across the ways so we have to walk all the way over there but knowing that if anything does happen you have something to go back and look at the cameras for you," Rodriguez says. 
The street outside the restaurant was one of the first to get one of the camera pods. Now the Santa Maria Police Department is adding 11 more cameras, one of them going near the city's library. 
That's great news for moms like Mari Wilson who come to the library multiple times a week. "There's a lot of drug use that happens around here - I think people take advantage of the WiFi that's here and then they tend to hangout in darker areas that is frightening for us as guests to the library," Wilson tells us. 
Lieutenant Mengel says from August of last year to this March, they have received 400 calls for service outside the library. 
Calls from people like Ralph Tipay, who says his bike was stolen outside the library. "I think a camera would help a lot especially in that area right there where the bikes are at," Tipay says. 
Lieutenant Mengel says in the future, the cameras may also end up being used for things like monitoring traffic flow to see how roads can be constructed to better serve the city. 

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