Police Tech, Outages and Holiday Plans on Study Session Agenda

At the Aug. 23 City Council Study Session, Beverly Hills Police Chief Mark Stainbrook gave an overview of the Beverly Hills Police Department (BHPD) technology and privacy policies. The Council then heard from Southern California Edison about recurring power outages and finished the meeting with an update on holiday programming. 

On April 13, the City Council approved nearly half a million dollars for the Police Department’s Real Time Watch Center (RTWC). The RTWC is intended to serve as a technological-intelligence hub that gathers all the information the police gather through Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras, Automated License Plate Readers (ALPR) and drones. The RTWC is also implementing a new way to take emergency calls, known as Live911, which will connect emergency phone calls to officers in the field.

Stainbrook explained that technology is in public-facing areas where no privacy is expected and drones are only used when a call for service is made, in alignment with local, state and federal law. All personnel are trained in privacy issues, including the camera operators from contractors NASTEC and Covered 6, as well as the BHPD-sworn drone operators. Flights and patterns are logged and strictly follow the Federal Aviation Association regulations.

“We strive to adhere to the applicable laws, orders, regulations and training related to the use of technology and uphold all privacy regulations and the maintenance and release of records,” said Stainbrook. “The Real Time Watch Center is generating a huge amount of interest; we’ve had multiple other police agencies coming to visit the Center.”

The City Council was pleased to hear about the progress with the Center. 

“It’s pretty remarkable that we approved this in Spring, in April and it is where it is today,” said Vice Mayor Julian Gold. “Hats off to you all for a job well done and done quickly.”

Also addressing the Council was a representative from Southern California Edison (SCE), who spoke about recent outages. Some areas of Beverly Hills, such as Trousdale Estates, have experienced outages lasting up to 16 hours, raising reliability concerns. 

On July 21, the Public Works Commission recommended that the city make an official comment to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPCU) regarding the outages. SCE has already met with Trousdale residents to discuss those concerns at a community meeting on July 27. 

At the Study Session, SCE went into detail about the factors that cause a drop in service, including accidents involving power supplies, equipment and overloading. The Council was also informed of efforts to mitigate those factors. As part of its Capital Improvement Plan, SCE plans to spend $5 billion to maintain and improve the infrastructure, such as underground cables, poles and transformers. The plan includes work to circuits providing power to Trousdale. The utility ended its presentation by providing all relevant contact information in the event of different circumstances. 

“We, as a community, are not happy,” said Mayor Bosse. “I appreciate you having the courage to be here because you are going to hear a lot of frustration that we have been feeling in ourselves, as well as in the residents continually calling us in terms of power outages.”

The Council indicated that it will likely submit a formal comment to the CPCU, as well as invite other cities to express their dissatisfaction with SCE service. 

The Study Session agenda then turned to the holidays, with the Rodeo Drive and Holiday Program Committees providing an update on the Holiday Lighting Celebration set for this November. Thus far, decorations include a large stationary train, palm tree lights and banners. Festivities will include live performances, interactive shows, fireworks and an appearance by Santa.