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Fremont delays voting on surveillance cameras because of concerns over funding source

FREMONT — Council members offered support for installing surveillance cameras around the city, but postponed voting on the issue Tuesday night because of concerns over funding them with federal housing grants intended to help the poor.

Fremont police were asking the council to reallocate $161,375 in Community Development Block Grant funds — which are earmarked for low- to moderate-income communities — to install 20 digital video cameras to prevent crime.

“I don’t have a problem with the camera program … it’s not an invasion of privacy,” Councilman Vinnie Bacon said. “The linking of the two (the program and the federal housing funds) is where I have the problem.”

After Vice Mayor Anu Natarajan and Councilwoman Sue Chan raised similar concerns, City Manager Fred Diaz suggested that all parties revisit the issue in February, when officials could use mid-year budget projections to identify other funding sources.

The five-member council agreed, voting unanimously to wait a few months to gather more information before reconsidering the item.

Police Chief Richard Lucero said that he will use that extra time to research “protocols and specifics” on how the camera program could be implemented while striking a balance between law enforcement and privacy concerns.

Three residents spoke at the meeting, and each opposed installing the cameras under any circumstance because of concerns about privacy.

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Chris DeBenedetti