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Police Chief Wants to Turn Rich Little Palos Verdes Estates Into a Panopticon

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Rich little Palos Verdes Estates sits on the edge of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, surrounded mostly by cliffs and other quiet neighborhoods that are nearly as wealthy; it has one of the lowest crime rates in the low-crime South Bay and had just five "serious, violent crimes" last year, four of which involved acquaintances. So the surveillance measures Police Chief Jeff Kepley is proposing now are pretty bizarre: he wants to put cameras on police officers, in three places in police cars, and all over the city, including at its entrances. Kepley just came in last June and made his suggestions at a city council meeting this week, reports the Daily Breeze.

Officers in PVE already wear audio recorders and the police department "receives few officer misconduct complaints" overall, but "from time to time" there are reports of "officer rudeness," so Kepley wants to put body cameras on 20 officers, which they'll be able to turn on and off manually (the footage will go to the police department's servers via WiFi). Why waste the money on such a well-behaved force, especially when the officers will be able to decide when the cameras are on and when they're off anyway? There's the 1984 logic that they'll be "preventative," but Kepley does admit to the DB: "The video is not just for civil liability, it's also for criminal evidence."

Kepley wants to add three cameras to patrol cars, one for the windshield, one for the back window, and one for the backseat, all sending footage back to the department's servers via WiFi, and has already started a trial of the system. The reason here? "[W]hen I started assessing some of the needs of our Police Department, one was the fact that we did not have a video system and many other departments do."

And then there's the "citywide network of surveillance cameras," which would include cameras at "seven entry points, several major intersections and shopping center parking lots" at a cost of at least $200,000.

Last month, PVE had its first home invasion robbery in 15 years, which Kepley says has "created a sense of unease for many people" that has apparently driven them full-on The Purge paranoid.

According to the LA Times mapping project, PVE is 75.5 percent white, 17.3 percent Asian, 2.9 percent Latino, and 1.1 percent black; its median household income is $167,344. Its neighbor Rolling Hills Estates is completely gated; Rancho Palos Verdes has similar demographics and several gated neighborhoods. To the north, PVE is bordered by the city of Torrance, which is 52.1 percent white, 28.6 percent Asian, 1.9 percent black, and 12.9 percent Latino.
· Palos Verdes Estates eyes police body cameras, surveillance system [Daily Breeze]