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Davis police researching security cameras, license plate readers in rash of armed robberies

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DAVIS, Calif. (KTXL) -- The Davis Police Department will begin researching security camera systems and license plate readers at the direction of the City Council following a series of armed robberies and carjackings.

In the past several months, there have been eight armed robberies, many of them involving university students who were targeted after dark. The police have used home security video to break cases in the past but haven't used it in the city.

Larger jurisdictions like Sacramento have deployed dozens of security cameras at key locations. They also use license plate reading cameras that can scan multiple plates that are automatically cross-referenced with stolen vehicles or those involved in previous crimes.

"It's a force multiplier. It gives us a little bit more eyes out there when we have a limited number of officers," Davis Deputy Police Chief Paul Doroshov said.

City Council members, as well as police officials, are sensitive to concerns about privacy and the surveillance of citizens. Any camera systems being considered will be tied to policy rules to satisfy citizens who have already expressed concerns about how closely they will be watched.

"I can't stress enough balancing that with people's privacy concerns. We want something that's going to be effective and yet not overly intrusive," said Doroshov.

UC Davis student Jaspreet Singh said she believes city security cameras may deter criminals.

"Once robbers are known that we have cameras I think it might limit (robberies) and it's safe for students," Singh said.

Doroshov said he expects that an examination of cameras systems and costs and recommendations to the city council will be complete in about six weeks.

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