The front door of the Vallejo Police Department headquarters. Photo by Scott Morris
by John Glidden | April 26, 2021
VALLEJO – Several police-related items will go before the Vallejo City Council for approval on Tuesday, including a request from the city’s police chief to add an in-car camera system for all 39 of the Vallejo Police Department’s patrol vehicles.
The proposal with Axon Enterprises includes installing two cameras per police vehicle: A dashboard/windshield unit and a camera to monitor the back seat of each patrol car. The cameras will record audio as well.
“The result of installing this system will provide clear video from a view three street lanes wide of all activity occurring in front of the patrol car and any activity occurring in the rear passenger area where suspects/arrestees are detained,” Vallejo Police Chief Shawny Williams wrote in a report to the city council.
The contract with Axon was amended in June 2020 to add 10 automated license plate readers (ALPR) to be “deployed in hotspot areas of the city,” according to Williams. A second amendment to the contract was approved in January of this year with the city adding 10 ALPRs for use on Mare Island.
Adding dash cams to the department’s vehicles comes more than 10 months after a Vallejo police detective shot and killed Sean Monterrosa while responding to reports of looting at a Vallejo Walgreens.
Monterrosa’s family, along with community members, demanded release of body camera footage from the shooting which took place during the early morning hours of June 2, 2020. None of the body cameras worn by officers that night captured the actual shooting of Monterrosa.
Funding for the system in fiscal year 2021-22 will come from the department’s Supplemental Law Enforcement Special Account with early indications that the general fund will be used to pay for the remainder of the contract.
In addition, Williams is seeking council approval to accept a $30,000 grant Urban Area Security Initiative for homeland security projects for the purchase of additional license plate readers. The ALPR would be installed around the Vallejo Ferry Terminal, and nearby parking garage.
“These locations are centrally located and include high amounts of pedestrian/vehicular traffic, community events and access to commuter water ways,” according to a separate staff report to the council. “This lends this area to be perceived as a target for anyone wishing to initiate a mass casualty event of man made disaster.”
Since receiving the grant money means adjusting the city’s budget – two council votes are required. If approved Tuesday, the item will return for a second and final vote on May 11.
Both the in-camera system and new ALPR are on the council’s consent agenda – which allows the council to approve numerous items with one vote.
Also before the council:
A request from Vallejo Mayor Robert McConnell to add an agenda item as a subsequent Vallejo City Council meeting about the possibility of forming a police technology committee.
“The charge of the committee would be to study and discuss the available and developing police technology, use thereof, the cost effectiveness of present, developing, and anticipated police technology, and provide recommendations to the Council on purchase of police technology devices and policy and procedure relating to use,” according tot he agenda.
The committee would be composed of one Vallejo resident from each of the six council districts, two police department representatives, and two volunteer police technology expert advisors.
The council will be asked to consider using funding via the American Rescue Plan (ARP) to support 36 months of a special mentoring program.
“Advance Peace, through its Peacemaker Fellowship strategy, works to interrupt gun violence in urban neighborhoods by providing transformational opportunities to young adults identified as most likely to be perpetrators and/or victims of gun violence,” according to a staff report from Williams and Vallejo City Manager Greg Nyhoff. “A priority of the strategy is to ensure greater support and connectivity to human, social, and economic opportunities, to young adults who are traditionally isolated from those services.”
The three-year program is expected to cost $1.8 million. The American Rescue Plan provides funding to local and state governments in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.