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La Quinta set to begin surveillance camera system trial

Trial will run until May 31

La Quinta set to begin surveillance came

LA QUINTA, Calif.- - The La Quinta City Council approved a 90-day trial period to test out a Public Safety Camera System at three intersections.

Three different camera companies will each install one of their camera systems at one intersection from March 1, through May 31, 2019. The trial comes at no cost to the city.

After the 90 days, city staff will report back to city council.  

The cameras will be installed at Washington Street at Eisenhower Drive, Washington Street at Avenue 52, and Jefferson Street at Avenue 49.

The first trial camera has been installed on Washington Street at Avenue 52.

The concept is sparking debate online, with some residents commenting "the cost isn't worth it", "cameras will slow traffic". and "waste of money, put more police on the streets" on Nextdoor.com.

However, city officials say the cameras will help law enforcement act more efficiently.

"Obviously we're a very safe community, but at the same time, we want to tap into technology to see how we can augment our police resources moving forward," said Chris Escobedo, community resources director for La Quinta.

"In the past, we've had the community literally call police and say, 'Hey there's debris in the road' and police are wasting that time and money going to get things that now the city will be notified and we can go in and assist," said Marcie Graham, marketing and communications supervisor for the the La Quinta City Manager's Office.

The plan to increase security measures comes just two months after 22-year-old Garrett Harker reported being assaulted and robbed by two suspects while walking through La Quinta Park.

"I was also kind of afraid that once they had everything that they had, they might shoot me anyway," Harker told News Channel 3 shortly after the crime.

Watch: La Quinta man assaulted, robbed at gunpoint at city park

According to one city official, there was a camera system in place, however, there was no video of the suspects due to dark lighting. The city hopes this new camera system helps solve that problem.

"So, what we're looking at is high-intensity commercial camera systems. These are high-quality top grade. The cameras that were in the park system were due for replacement," Escobedo said.

Just last week, a similar surveillance system helped the Moreno Valley Police Department arrest Nathanael Colbert-Chaves, who allegedly entered a store, sexually assaulted and robbed a female victim. 

"This is just a perfect example of how a citywide surveillance system can help solve crime," said Anthony Moreno, public safety analyst for La Quinta.

A spokesperson for the Riverside County Sheriff's Department said the cameras enabled investigators to track his car. 

La Quinta officials said they want to reassure the public that these cameras would only be on public roads and parks. They plan to survey the community to get feedback on the trial from residents before the project moves forward. 

Officials also said their goal is to be as transparent as possible about the cameras. In that spirit, monitors will be installed inside City Hall beginning next Monday so people can actually go and view a live feed of the cameras and see what they're capable of. They hope this will help provide a better understanding of how this will assist in keeping their community safe. 

Click here for more answers from the city on the new proposed camera system. 

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