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Issue: Security cameras at Fremont religious institutions

During last Thursday’s Planning Commission meeting, an attention-getting issue emerged in a discussion that had previously focused on traffic, parking, petty crime — the problems that had angered residents living near the Fremont Sikh Temple on Gurdwara Road, near Mission Blvd. in the Niles district. Commissioners,  temple leaders, city staff and the police hope they have addressed  those nagging issues by requiring the temple to adhere to dozens of conditions. The Planning Commission voted to approve the temple’s expansion plans.

Meanwhile, some commissioners — led by Roman Reed and  David Bonaccorsi — were far more vocal in their opposition to one of those conditions: placing security cameras in the parking lot outside the Gurdwara (or temple).  Commissioners voted down the cameras by a margin of 5-2, with Commissioners Dirk Lorenz and Rick Jones casting the dissenting votes. The majority of commissioners said they objected to the idea that Gurdwara leaders would have to keep security video for at least two weeks and would have to provide police with the video upon request, even without a search warrant, Bonaccorsi said Friday.  They also noted that there are no security cameras at other houses of religious worship in Fremont, be they Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist or other, and they worried that putting the cameras at one kind of temple or church sent a wrong — perhaps even discriminatory — message.

To repeat, the temple is expanding by nearly 50 percent — that’s been approved, and that might be all that neighbors care about (with many being unhappy about it). But commissioners made sure the cameras did not make the final cut, and I suppose your view on that depends on which side of the civil liberties fence you stand.

What’s your take on this issue?

Chris DeBenedetti

  • West

    I feel sorry for the people that live there. Have any of you seen the traffic mess, when there is a event there!

  • bbox231

    As I thought about the reports of the traffic mess I was reminded of the last time I attended mass at MSJ.

    I’m missing the civil liberties concern. WOuldnt the security system be totally under the control of the church/temple operators?

    If so, seems completely imprudent to forgo this modern necessity.

  • Tony Irvington

    “Modern necessity”?

    Necessary for what?

    To validate the unnecessary fears of this modern world?

  • bbox231

    “Necessary for what?” –

    To assist our men and women in uniform in their attempts to solve infrequent – but, occasionally quite serious – hate (and other forms of) crime.

    But, you’re missing a very important point Tony. What’s the trade-off? On what grounds would you object?

  • worble

    1# I Tell you what it is alot less traffic than what a ballpark would have caused for the whole south bay and fremont area. The traffic is not that bad and it is at the end of Niles away from the town and you can go around it when they have events.

  • West

    There are Camera’s all over Fremont watching you. Anyone care to guess, how many Camera’s, Web Cams in Fremont, watching you.

  • Tony Irvington

    I wouldn’t have any objection if the parishioners WANTED cameras in the Gurdwara’s parking lot, but they don’t, so I feel no compelling need, or know of any reason, not to respect the decision of those who worship there as a congregation as to what is right, both practically and spiritually, for those who worship there as a congregation.

    There are occasionally quite serious and not infrequent crimes committed in our state prisons, College and High School Locker Rooms, Boy Scout tents and the vestry of the local Catholic Church. Do you think it might be prudent to put some cameras in those antiquated places Bbox? -Cameras that aren’t under the total control of the operators.

  • Howard

    It sounds like they can still set up security cameras if they so desire it. There’s nothing wrong with setting up cameras on their own property. It gets odd when the government requires them to set up cameras and they don’t have policies about other similar organizations doing the same.

    Also, it gets very odd when the city establishes a requirement about how long they must keep the videos and requires that they turn them over to the police on demand.

    Really, who is more interested in the security at the temple? The people who attend the temple and the temple leadership? Or the city government? Leave it up to the people of the temple. If they can’t provide adequate security, people will not attend temple. The city doesn’t have a horse in this race.

    And if the temple leadership opts to put in cameras and a crime is committed, they can choose to turn over videos to the police in efforts to catch the criminals.

    But requiring the temple to turn over videos on demand? That leaves open the opportunity to collect videos specifically to see who is attending the temple and track people in ways that has nothing to do with law enforcement or crime or probable cause.

  • Marty

    I’m going to try and get this in before Chris closes the thread –

    I agree with Tony, this is an odd requirement for expansion. If the petty “crimes” expected from weekend festivals at the temple are the greatest concern we have then Fremont is in a good place.

    Regardless, we shouldn’t even be approaching civil rights infringement for such a minor annoyance.

  • bbox231

    I agree with you completely – if this action reflects the wishes of the congregation – a point which I thought I made clear in my original post.

    That said – what is the basis for your statement that the congregation objects? I only see where two of the commissioners objected and, while I can imagine well-intentioned commissioners responding to a prospective civil-liberties conflict, I dont understand why the congregation would object, IF they had full control over the use of any recordings made. . . .

  • Tony Irvington

    That’s a good point Bbox. I assumed that the commissioners were objecting on behalf of the Gurdwara’s desires, but that isn’t stated or even suggested in the article.
    Roman Reed and David Bonaccorsi might not have a clue how the Sikhs feel about being required to have security cameras installed outside their temple. It’s possible they’ve never even spoken to a Sikh.

    For all we know they might think having cameras peering down on the Gurdwara’s parking lot at all times is the best idea ever.

    But if that was the case, don’t you think they would have put them up already?

  • charlie C

    #5…Worbs, Did Vinnie write that one for you???

    (Remainder of post deleted due to inappropriate content)

  • bbox231

    #10 – your speculation about what these folks would or wouldn’t have already done is a good one.

    Cost of a one-off security system installation would certainly be much higher than if it was done at the time they did their planned expansion – but, who knows?

    THat which is characterized as “common sense” follows many paths.

    If you control the recordings, what’s the down-side risk?

  • Chris DeBenedetti

    Charlie C, welcome back. That Kinks album you referenced has always been one of my favorites. But I deleted part of your post because it was unquestionably a personal attack. Please don’t do that.

  • West

    AMEN !!!!!!

    Hayward to turn off red-light cameras.

    HAYWARD — Red-light cameras will soon be a thing of the past here, after the City Council voting Tuesday to end the program as soon as possible.

    Police had proposed removing the cameras, citing a lack of evidence that they reduce broadside accidents. However, rear-end accidents had increased at most of the eight intersections after the cameras were installed.

    Although the police recommended phasing out the cameras as contracts began expiring later this year, several council members said that if the program was not working and there were more rear-end collisions, the city should pull the plug immediately.

    Ending the contracts early will cost the city more than $108,000.

    Even though the city is taking out the red-light cameras, “the message I want to send to the community is not that you can now run red lights. It’s just the opposite,” Police Chief Diane Urban said.