HOLLISTER, Calif. - Surveillance cameras are keeping a close eye on one of the largest 4th of July events on the Central Coast. We're talking about Hollister's Biker Rally where thousands will flood the streets over the next three days. The event is keeping law enforcement on their toes, as they begin using a new camera system to keep those streets safe.
On Thursday, NewsChannel 5 got a behind the scenes look at the high-tech setup being used.
The Hollister Police Department's surveillance cameras are up and running right now. They're being used only in public areas and can be moved at any time. That's so officers can keep an eye on streets like this one during this weekend's events and throughout the rest of the year.
As the wheels come rolling in, about 40 surveillance cameras are recording video and trained law enforcement staff are watching.
"We have folks that will be in there manning each of the cameras and just monitoring the event to make sure that there's really no disturbances," said Hollister Police Chief Dave Westrick.
Westrick gave us a look at one of the department's three command centers, where all the cameras can be seen at once.
"We have the ability to, on some of our camera lens into four virtual cameras," Westrick said.
He's keeping the number of officers working the event under wraps, but said this system is a more efficient way of spreading out the department's resources. Last year, a few cameras were used and it worked so well, the city decided to spend about $300,000 for this year's system.
"It helps us on the field, for the officers that are down at the event to really be more efficient with the number of people we have working," Westrick said.
Pedestrian safety is also a major issue. More street barriers were purchased with money left over from last year's budget and will be used for other events. The cameras will stay as well. Westrick said they'll be rolling 24/7, 365 days a year. But for the next three days, officers will be able to respond the minute they see something suspicious.
"In the event of a collision or an event that occurs there, we can always go back and pull the video that was rolling at the time. Possibly either find the cause of the collision or find, if it was a hit and run, find the suspect maybe get the plate," Westrick said.
The video captured by the cameras is kept for 60 days, that's the law according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Westrick said the video may be used as evidence if a case goes to court.