Between November 2015 and May 2016, 28 shootings on highways in the east San Francisco Bay Area claimed four lives and injured 12, per California Highway Patrol data. After a homicide on State Route 4 in May 2016, the Pittsburg, Calif. (pop. 70,000) city council approved using $100,000 from the police department’s budget towards installing a system of video cameras on State Route 4 to mitigate crime. 

The city worked rapidly with the California Department of Transportation to secure permits, and the Bay Area Rapid Transit District offered to install cameras by its stations and tracks. As costs rose, the East Contra Costa County (Calif.) Regional Fee and Financing Authority gave $100,000, while county supervisor Federal Glover obtained $100,000 for the project. 

About 60 days after the project’s approval, 14 video cameras and six automated license plate readers were installed on State Route 4 over July 4th weekend, 2016. The video camera system sends images and alerts to the city’s camera system, with images being visible on the police’s digital devices. 

As of Dec. 7, the system has led to 160 arrests and the recovery of 162 stolen vehicles since its implementation.

Pittsburg’s system has also inspired nearby cities like Antioch and San Pablo to look into installing similar camera systems as nearby police and sheriff’s department officials have observed the system in action. “Our camera room for the last year-and-a-half… has been a very busy place,” says Jill Hecht, Pittsburg director of community development.