Pasadena’s Vice Mayor Tyron Hampton and Councilman Victor Gordo couldn’t dissuade remaining councilmembers from approving $420,000 for a “state of the art” surveillance camera for Pasadena Police Department’s air operations during Monday’s social-distanced council meeting.
Council authorized the purchase order with Wescam-USA for purchase of one MX-10 EO/IR camera system for a total of $420,000 pursuant to Pasadena Municipal Code Section 4.08.049(B), “Contracts for which the City’s best interests are served.”
Gordo and Hampton were not alone in saying the timing was bad to spend such a large amount of money.
“Pasadena’s priority should be finding solutions to families who are struggling to pay rent, find food and just survive this pandemic,” David Chavez told council.
Another resident, Mohammad Tajsar, an attorney for the ACLU, expressed serious concern about the expenditure. “At a time when our city needs to prioritize social services to poor and working class community members who are struggling, authorizing the purchase of a fancy aerial surveillance technology is a real slap in the face to Pasadena,” Tajsar said in an email comment.
Ed Washatka told council that he felt the expenditure timing was bad and Pasadena should delay approval as there are “those needs of greater public safety” during the pandemic.
Police Chief John Perez said Pasadena’s helicopters have four aging cameras currently and the air operations unit’s need for the new camera is of paramount safety to its officers on the ground.
Chief Perez said the maintenance cost will be $40,000 cost for each camera per year and plans for the installation to be sometime this summer.
Perez claimed the camera requested was not surveillance equipment. “Rotating cameras is critical to keep the public and officers safe…”
The installation cost of $180,000 will be paid for by FAST (Foothill Air Support Team) for which Pasadena helicopters provide assistance to local cities in time of need, Perez told council Monday.
Safety from above is critical to officers on the ground, Perez stated.