Pinole, Calif., to Upgrade CCTV System from Early '90s Technology

The Pinole City Council took a step toward overhauling the city's creaky surveillance camera network Tuesday, allocating $21,500 to develop a plan to bring it back to the cutting edge it occupied once upon a time.

Pinole police denied rumors that the system, or part of it, is nonfunctional after cameras around Fernandez Park failed to record the people who fired gunshots into the park from an adjacent shopping center on a Saturday afternoon early in June. No one was hit.

Police declined to say whether the cameras were off or broken or aimed in the wrong direction that afternoon, June 4, but acknowledged the system needed an overhaul.

On July 30, however, "the cameras were on and working," Police Chief James Rose said, when a gunman killed Dave Gregory, 18, of Hercules and Darren Kretchmar, 21, of Pinole and wounded a third man on a footpath at the edge of the park.

A woman accompanying the alleged gunman was caught on camera, police said, but the images were of insufficient quality to produce a sketch. Police have since arrested a suspect, Teresita Rodriguez, 19, of Hercules. She is charged with being an accessory after the fact to the killings and is in custody on $500,000 bail.

Daniel Ruiz, 25, of San Pablo, whom police arrested in a neighboring yard less than an hour after the crimes, is charged with two counts of murder with special circumstances and enhancements, attempted murder, and unlawful possession of a firearm. Ruiz is in custody without bail.

Retired Police Cmdr. John Miner, who is advising the city, told the council Tuesday that parts of the system work and others do not.

Beefing it up would implement aspects of the Pinole Redevelopment Agency's mission such as alleviating blight, facilitating commercial activity and promoting health and safety, he said.

The original system came online in the early 1990s amid criticism it was Orwellian and would curtail civil liberties. Police hailed it as a pioneering policing tool and effective supplement to sparse and overburdened personnel and predicted it would deter crime and provide evidence.

The city installed the first cameras around the park and the Pinole Senior Center in 1991 at a cost of $200,000. In 1992, the council allocated $350,000 more to put up a camera at Appian Way and Fitzgerald Drive, according to news reports at the time. Eventually, the city spent more than $1 million in redevelopment funds to lay three miles of fiber-optic cable and install about 40 cameras citywide.

A fiber-optic cable damaged earlier in this decade during a construction project south of Interstate 80 has been repaired or replaced, Miner said.

Jerry Beck and Co., which built early phases of Pinole's system, outbid two other bidders and will evaluate the existing network, recommend short-term and long-term improvements, and estimate costs.

The council, sitting as the redevelopment agency board, unanimously approved a contract with Beck.