Sam Liccardo Wants Residents to Register Surveillance Cameras with Police

To catch the alleged serial arsonist who plagued downtown San Jose earlier this month, police relied on surveillance footage shared by residents to identify the suspect. Councilman Sam Liccardo is using that incident as a pitch to convince the public to submit their security camera footage to a central database monitored by law enforcement.

“An opportunity exists here to leverage the collective efforts of our residents,” Liccardo said last week, when announcing the plan that heads to the Rules and Open Government Committee this afternoon. “Residents can already do this in some cities. It’s a project with minimal effort that could yield big savings of time, energy and public safety.”

Voluntarily submitting surveillance footage to police would spare them the effort of doing the legwork to find residents and ask permission to see the video, Liccardo says.

There’s a similar program in Los Gatos, where police can view footage from cameras registered with the city.

A Santa Clara University professor of applied ethics told NBC that Liccardo’s idea is a little too “Big Brother,” a little tone deaf in an age of government spying and growing privacy concerns.

“Could have had the Summer of Love with cameras taping everything?” Irina Raicu told the TV news station. “If there’s a virtual eye in every public square, making a perfect transcript of everything you say, you’re not going to get the same amount of communication.”

More from the San Jose Rules and Open Government Committee agenda for January 29, 2014:

• Councilman Xavier Campos wants to raise taxes to pay for more police officers. Calling it a “difficult decision for the betterment of our city,” the East Side councilman says implementing a half-cent sales tax is the only option left to restore public safety services after budget cuts forced the city to shrink its police force from 1,400 to less than 1,000. The tax would cost up to $900,000 to place on the ballot and generate an estimated $70 million in revenue.

• Wild pigs continue to wreak havoc in Councilman Johnny Khamis’ Almaden Valley district, he says. So he’s asking the city to extend an emergency ordinance passed in November that allows trappers to shoot the landscape-wrecking feral boar. Without this measure, it’s illegal to fire a weapon within city limits. When the ordinance first came before the City Council last fall, Khamis noted that he’s not out for a bloodbath, just to save his constituents the pain of re-landscaping a rooted-up yard.

“It’s not my intention to go out and commit a pig genocide,” he said. “I’m only here to make sure the public is not harmed by these very bold group of animals.”

• City critic David Wall harps on San Jose for what he calls “piss poor management issues” when it comes to capital improvements at the Santa Clara Water Pollution Control Plant.

WHAT: Rules and Open Government Committee meet
WHEN: 2pm Wednesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. I think that any time a resident can help the police to apprehend a criminal, via video footage, it is a good thing. I also believe that residential security cameras are a godsend. I am all about public safety and if my camera footage can shorten an officers footwork and be of help to apprehend a criminal, then I would be happy to volunteer any potential evidence. I think it is a good idea.

  2. This is just political grandstanding by Sam Liccardo. He is not making it seem like he cares about public safety when in reality he is a very major player in the destruction of the San Jose Police Department. Sam Liccardo’s policies have caused literally hundreds of officer to resign from the San Jose Police Department. Sam Liccardo’s policies have cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in training police officers who have ultimately fled to other cities. While having a surveillance video is good evidence, it is useless unless you have the officers to follow up on this evidence. Because of Sam Liccardo’s policies, the SJPD burglary unit is down to a few people for a city of a million. There is also exactly 1, yes 1, detective in the car theft unit. This for a city of a million people who had over 8,000 cars stolen in San Jose last year. Citizens, please don’t get some false sense of security just because you have a surveillance camera. No surveillance camera or BS “predictive crime” software that Sam is also toting will ever replace a beat cop in your neighborhood, no matter how sexy Sam Liccardo makes it sound.

  3. I for one would never articulate in this program . Not that i wouldn’t want to help , I definitely would. I just don’t and can’t trust this city. That whole “Big Brother” thing throws me off

    • I use to think that way, too, until I read/saw where it is done so many other places and how beneficial it has been. For example, I think it is Europe that has them installed around the city and when a crime goes down on the streets, they are able to see what happened. I know that it seems like a huge intrusion, but I think I would rather accept that intrusion, for safety. Just like homes whose owners have been able to see who has been stealing their packages and the recent arsonist who was captured, with the help of cameras. People not committing crimes should not have a concern…unless they are picking their nose, LOL.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *