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Santa Maria surveillance cameras successful in deterring crime, - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Santa Maria surveillance cameras successful in deterring crime, police say

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The Santa Maria Police Department has installed surveillance cameras around the city in the past year to help fight crime. Sergeant Russ Mengel says the camera program has been a success.

So far, there are 18 camera pods positioned throughout the city. The locations were chosen based on the number of crimes reported in those areas.

"Neighborhoods where we've put these pods up, the issues that existed before are no longer there, and so the neighbors I've had the chance to talk to -- the business owners I've had the chance to talk with -- love them. And that's the appeal, is they really serve as a deterrent for crime in neighborhoods," said Sgt. Mengel.

Buena Vista Park is one location with these cameras. The camera pod was installed about a year ago. Kirsten Cahoon, who works near the park at the Good Samaritan Shelter, thinks the cameras have made a big difference.

"I think it has just given everybody, like, a new sense of security in the whole area. We are not seeing the huge gathering of people anymore of people that were up to no good. Even some of the kids that were leaving Santa Maria High during the day and congregating in the park. We have just seen a real decrease in that," said Cahoon.

According to Santa Maria police, from January to July of last year, there were a total of 126 calls for service to the park. There were just 84 calls during that same period of this year.

Local resident Derek Subia says the cameras make him feel much safer now.

"You don't see a lot of people doing bad stuff when there is cameras," said Subia.

According to officials, the camera pods cost about $10,000 apiece. Many of them are paid for through private donations from business owners as well as funds from the police department.

The department is getting 15 new surveillance cameras within the next couple months.

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