Bay Area Highways to Implement Patrol Camera Hoping to Curb Gun Violence

Efren Bueno, Staff Writer

Highway shootings have doubled since 2019, provoking officials to take protective measures

Highway shootings have surged 117%, with the number of shootings rising from 82 (2019) to 178 (2021), according to NBC Bay Area’s analysis of CHP data. In an attempt to curb fatal highway shootings, surveillance cameras are being implemented along Bay Area highways and have already done so in Pittsburg, Calif.

While highway shootings are challenging to investigate, surveillance may help in finding witnesses, the location, and suspects, according to Dr. Michelle Rippy, a professor in the Department of Criminal Justice at California State University, East Bay. 

Surveillance cameras themselves will likely not prevent gun violence, but surveillance cameras coupled with other strategies can work to identify suspects and hopefully lead to an arrest. The cameras would need to be monitored 24/7 by skilled technicians who are seeking changes in normal traffic flow and potential shooting incidents,” explained Rippy.

Law enforcement is attributing the rise of shootings to gang violence and road rage incidents along with the prolific use of firearms, Rippy added. However, surveillance cameras are not the only tool Bay Area officials can implement to curb shootings and prevent fatalities. 

“The use of acoustic gunshot surveillance can assist in pinpointing the location of shootings to provide immediate notification to a local law enforcement agency for response. One of the biggest challenges law enforcement officers face in responding to shootings is a timely notification of the shooting so they can respond to the scene,” said Rippy. 

Yet, the implementation of increased monitoring on freeways is expensive for taxpayers and state funding. Pittsburg has spent more than three million on highway cameras, paid for by federal and state grants, and the city of Pittsburg. “It is 100% worth it,” Pittsburg police said.

In the transition to increased highway surveillance, police forces are working to improve and ensure comfort in driver safety.

 “The biggest thing we want to stress to people is that our freeways are safe. The reality is, if we look at the statistics, you are far, far more likely to be involved in a crash or actually be affected by somebody driving while distracted than be involved in one of these incidents,” said Officer Andrew Barclay, Public Information Officer at California Highway Patrol’s Golden Gate Division, according to NBC Bay Area.