Police chief backs use of cameras, ShotSpotter

Menlo Park Police Chief Robert Jonsen said last night that he wants to follow a consultant’s recommendation to dramatically increase police camera surveillance throughout the city and equip officers with Tasers.

Among other things, the report recommended that the city install cameras in high-crime areas as well as a “ShotSpotter” system like the one used by the city of East Palo Alto. Such systems are used to pinpoint where gunshots come from and alert police.

The proposal to acquire multiple kinds of new law-enforcement cameras and technology came in a report written by the consulting company Belcher, Ehle, Medina and Associates. The report, presented at last night’s City Council meeting, analyzed the police departments performance and areas for improvement.

License plate readers

The report presented by consultant Steve Bletcher, also recommended an automatic license plate recognition system, which would photograph and document the license plates of cars going in and out of the city.

The report also advocated buying multiple video cameras for police cars. According to Jonsen, body cameras that will be worn by officers have already been ordered. If further recommended installing cameras and audio recorders in the lobby and jail area of the police station.

Alternatives to guns

Bletcher said his group also concluded that Menlo Park should consider arming its officers with Tasers, which he called a useful alternative to guns.

The 2012-2013 budget for the police department is $14.7 million. There are 47 sworn officers and 22.75 civilian employees.

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