Cameras at Drake Park. Photo by Sarah Bennett.

Long Beach’s tourism-driven Downtown will soon have more eyes watching over it once 85 closed-circuit security cameras are purchased and installed through a private initiative in the coming months.

The cameras are the result of a collaboration between the Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) and the Downtown Long Beach Association (DLBA), each of which contributed at least $100,000 to launch the Tourism Community Policing Initiative, which aims to keep Downtown a fun and safe place to visit. Supported by local business owners, the initiative is being headed by Jane Netherton, CEO of International City Bank, and Larry Black, owner of The Varden Hotel. It will be the largest surveillance initiative in the city’s history.

The $300,000 Downtown project includes $200,000 from the CVB and $100,000 from the DLBA, and was first proposed to the CVB Board, who unanimously supported it “without blinking an eye,” said Netherton.

“We will have a 360-degree view of Downtown,” Netherton continued. “We know that the cameras will not necessarily stop the action at the moment but they will be essential as far as apprehension [of the perpetrator].”

Once a security contract is signed, the City will own all the cameras, a gift from the CVB and DLBA. The cameras will then be linked to the Long Beach Police Department’s Common Operating Picture (LB COP) program, which permits the department to remotely access cameras at any given point in time.

It will be a “stand alone” system, meaning the LBPD has exclusive access to the system with a complete firewall against public access.

Though not as expansive, a similar privately funded safety initiative was implemented by the East Anaheim Street Business Association last November. Eight closed-circuit cameras were placed at two intersections within the district and are all directly linked to LBPD’s communications command center. 

{loadposition latestnews}Tom Marcoux, CVB’s security manager and a former LBPD sergeant, met with LBPD to develop a map for Downtown’s new camera coverage. A meeting was then held in May with Downtown stakeholders as well as Long Beach Transit and the LBPD to go over the map, the implications of the initiative, as well as incentivize businesses to purchase their own cameras to add to the system. Since then, regular meetings have been held to hone and materialize the project itself.

“[When the contract is signed,] business owners will have the opportunity to buy these cameras for their business to have even more cameras in the area,” Netherton said, also explaining that the bulk discount the CVB and DLBA will be receiving will also be given to businesses should they purchase their cameras within 90 days of the security contract’s signing.

Netherton’s hope between the initiative itself and the hopeful business participation is nothing short of an entirely surveyed Downtown with 24/7 camera access through the LBPD.

“There is no doubt in my mind that we will have the Downtown area blanketed after businesses sign up for their cameras,” Netherton said. “Once businesses partake, we’re estimating that 120 cameras will be throughout the Downtown area.”

Discussions with other areas–including City Place–are also looking promising in helping the initiative expand, which Netherton wanted to emphasize has nothing to do with an increase in criminal activity downtown.

“It’s more of a proactive thing,” Netherton said. “We want people to be comfortable in Downtown Long Beach so this is ultimately a good thing.”

After the security contract is signed, it is expected that a 30 day period will be held before the project will start, which Netherton estimates will be completed within three months.

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