City Council accepts state grant for “front line” police use

In February 2020, Police Chief Jeremy Bowers explains to the City Council the benefits of the public safety cameras, and the images they produce.

The Piedmont Police Department will receive a $100,000 state grant for “front line” uses including helping with rollout of the city’s Public Safety Camera Program, and making improvements to the department’s briefing room.

Monday night, the Piedmont City Council approved accepting that grant, as well as a plan for using that money, along with an additional $506,000 from similar grants received in previous years and not yet spent.

In addition to approving $300,000 of that money for the public safety cameras and related software and $225,000 spent on modifications at the police station (including for public safety camera-related equipment), another $80,000 is earmarked for safety gear, field supplies, social media consulting and web page support for crime prevention and other community outreach, and overtime for officers covering community events, special patrols, the department’s juvenile officer and other staff support.

The newest $100,000 grant was through the 2019-2020 California Citizens Option for Public Safety grant. Such grants have been made by the state to cities and counties since 1997 to augment policing resources at the local level. Vice Mayor Teddy Gray King called COPS “the granddaddy of federal and state grants,” a mainstay for local governments.

The grant money is supposed to supplement, and not replace, existing local funding. The size of these grants is mostly a function of a city’s or county’s population.

The first public safety cameras in Piedmont were installed more than three years ago at the intersection of Oakland Avenue and Grand Avenue. In October, Piedmont police Chief Jeremy Bowers told the council he hopes  cameras could be in operation at more local intersections by April 2021.

The public safety cameras are not to be confused with the city’s “automatic license plate reader” cameras that focus on vehicle plates, their data collected to help identify vehicles involved in suspected crimes. The public safety cameras capture wider scenes including public sidewalks, parks, street intersections, and other public places.

Turkey Trot nixed this year due to COVID concerns

Piedmont City Administrator Sara Lillevand told the council Monday night that the annual Turkey Trot, the Thanksgiving morning 5K run around the city that benefits various local programs, won’t happen in 2020 as an in-person race and public gathering. 

The reason, as with this year’s cancellations of so many other things that bring joy to people’s lives, is the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. Lillevand said the organizers of the annual run, held for the first time in 2002, are working to create an alternative event.

More than 1,800 runners and walkers took part in last year’s Piedmont Turkey Trot.

Tennis court renovation officially wrapped up

Among a handful of other matters addressed by the City Council Monday night was formally accepting work done by Vintage Contractors Inc. as part of the Main Park Tennis Court Renovation Project. The council authorized the work in August, and the courts reopened Oct. 19.

The work, with an authorized budget of $100,000, came in two weeks early and $862 under budget.

The acceptance of work had been part of Monday night’s council “consent calendar,” meaning no discussion of the tennis court work was anticipated. But King wanted to say a few words about the work, and the importance of the tennis courts in general.

She said that, during the most restrictive part of the COVID-19 lockdown, that the Piedmont tennis courts gave her a place to get out of the house and see friends and play with her kids when few other places were open and available.

“This is one of the things that shows even the most mundane of city (actions) can really affect lives,” King said.

Reach Sam Richards at sam.richards4344@gmail.com

One thought on “City Council accepts state grant for “front line” police use

  1. Tennis courts – low cost civic improvements with added value. How about putting a simple fence along Blair Park so it can be used as an off-leash area?

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