Gresham parks get surveillance cameras

A sign notes the presence of surveillance cameras at Main City Park in Gresham, Sept. 18, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)
A sign notes the presence of surveillance cameras at Main City Park in Gresham, Sept. 18, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)

GRESHAM, Ore. (KOIN) — The city of Gresham is installing cameras in as many four city parks and along the Spring Water Trail following a homicide in one park earlier this year.

The Main City Park in Gresham, Sept. 18, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)
The Main City Park in Gresham, Sept. 18, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)

Two teens were charged in the shooting death of “Paul” Venancio-Lopez, 33, who was found dead near the basketball court at Red Sunset Park on July 5.

The chief of police told KOIN 6 News the cameras, paid for with state and federal grants, will be installed in Red Sunset Park, Vance Park, Rockwood Park and Main City Park.

“Red Sunset really sparked this because had we had a camera up in Red Sunset Park it would have captured the entire incident,” Chief Craig Junginger told KOIN 6 News. “Probably would have saved our investigation about two days of leg work trying to identify people and finding out who the players were and what occurred.”

Signs announcing Operation Safe Community are being posted in the parks.

“Each camera is about $4,000 and we’ve purchased three of them to start,” Junginger said. “The good thing about them is they all have their own internal hard drives, so we can remotely access them through the Internet.”

He said the cameras have proven successful in identifying suspects in other cities, such as Arroyo Grande, California. There are more than 65 camers used there in both parks and the downtown core.

“We know with the Boston Bombing and the London Bombing that video surveillance is crucial in identifying the people responsible in criminal acts,” the chief said.

Chris Stebbins, who’s been coming to Main City Park since her childhood, welcomes the cameras.

“If it’s going to help catch a criminal or protect me from something, then I’m fine with it,” she said.

The chief deflected the notion the cameras are an invasion or privacy.

“I guess don’t come to the parks in Gresham where good citizens who don’t commit criminal acts don’t care if they’re monitored by video surveillance,” he said.

The cameras will operate on a 30 day loop. After that, the footage will be deleted.

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