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Scotts Valley
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August 12, 2022

Eyes in the sky

The Scotts Valley Police Department — responding to ongoing shenanigans at Skypark Skateboard Park — this week installed a high-tech surveillance camera.
Since being approved in 2002, the park has always experienced peaks and valleys of troublesome behavior, but last year police were forced to close the park 10 days to put a temporary stop to problems.
“We’ve been doing the same thing for 20 years (patrol visits) and it hasn’t solved the problem,” said Chief Steve Walpole, adding patrolmen were called to the park 450 times last year. “This is not a good use of our time.”
Enter an $8,000, four-camera Security Lines US surveillance box, paid for with a grant from the Scotts Valley Parks and Recreation Advocates. Van Nuys-based Security Lines US builds surveillance cameras especially for law-enforcement agencies.
“It’s always been our intent to have cameras out there,” said Tamara Melrose, the department’s IT expert. “But we haven’t had the infrastructure.”
Melrose said there is essentially no electricity at Skypark because the city has wanted to maintain the natural beauty. Currently, it is cost prohibitive to dig trenches near the skateboard park and bury wires.
But the solution selected by the police department bypasses the need for wire, and relies, instead, on the wireless capabilities of a cell phone, with an app dedicated for the surveillance camera.
The password protected, dedicated secure line shows video either on a person’s phone or directly to a video monitor.
“It’s a deterrent for people to know they’re on camera,” Walpole said. “We hope to deter vandalism, assaults and drug use.”
The camera comes with enough storage to hold 4 terabytes of information, equivalent to 30 days of video.
The camera will be taking non-stop pictures during the daytime and work when it detects activity at night.
The idea to install a surveillance camera gained momentum last September, when police met with Parks and Recreation commissioners to discuss security options.
Police investigated 58 complaints at the skateboard park in the two years between Sept. 15, 2015 and Sept. 15. Officers reported checking on the park 589 times in that same period, according to Scotts Valley Police Lt. John Wilson.
In that time, Wilson said, there were six arrests, 19 citations for violations of park rules, 35 warnings for disobeying park rules and 25 warnings for using the park after hours.
Another dynamic police hope to deter is the occasional older skaters who bully youngsters.
“We consistently get complaints that older kids are making it difficult on families,” Walpole said. “The community wants a camera out there.”

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