Founding Meeting, Nov 19, 2012, Redwood Heights Recreation Center.
The founding meeting of the Oakland “Neighborhood Guard Cooperative” was held November 19, 2012 at Redwood Heights Recreation Center, 3883 Aliso Avenue, Oakland, CA between 6 pm and 8:30 pm. The meeting room was full, standing room only, with about 60 people attending. Co-op founder Jesper “JJ” Jurcenoks chaired the meeting, Moderated by Mary Kay Rusell of the Redwood Ridge Neighborhood organization and Max Horowitz, Minutes: Sandra Pohutsky
Oakland City Councilmember Libby Schaaf
Ms. Schaaf expressed her gratitude to the organizers who reacted to a tragic occasion in their neighborhood to make it safer and who are now sharing their experience in finding security solutions for the rest of Oakland. Ms. Schaaf said we are entering an era of crowd sourcing and are on the verge of creating networks that the Oakland Police Department could never accomplish. Ms. Schaaf reported that she knew of at least three cases in 2012 of Oakland Police Department arresting criminals using evidence from private security cameras; all were convicted.
Neighborhood Guard founder JJ Jurcenoks began with his local neighborhood watch group when one of his neighbors was brutally attacked at home. They vowed that they would work on a method to protect others by reducing the danger of criminals breaking into Oakland homes. For their neighborhood they set the goal that no Criminal would enter or leave their neighborhood undetected.
Neighborhood Camera System
As Mr. Jurcenoks researched security cameras to capture street traffic; he found that ‘low end’ cameras were affordable but did not capture images well enough to be useful and the “high end” systems, which captured images well, would cost upwards of $50,000
Mr. Jurcenoks found a moderately priced camera system (about $2,200 before potential discounts) that captures car license plates very well in bright light, sun glare, nighttime, fog, rain and a combination of those conditions, including car headlights shining directly into the camera lens at night. He showed those images to the group, including an image of a skunk crossing the road. In his test in his neighborhood, he was able to read the license plates of 98% of the vehicles passing the camera.. Every car that enters his neighborhood is photographed.
The system setup: locate cameras at entrance and exit point in the neighborhood. Position cameras low to capture the license plate. If possible, place camera on the outside of a curve where traffic slows, although the camera can capture license plates of higher speed vehicles. Special streets: camera positioning is especially important on high traffic streets. More cameras are needed on streets divided by medians.
Place dummy decoy cameras in other locations in the neighborhood, along with prominent signs announcing that video surveillance is being conducted. The signs are needed for legal reason (removal of expectancy of privacy) and are also a deterrent to crime. The real cameras can be very well hidden. A polarized lens may be added to the camera to better capture images of people inside the vehicles.
The images are uploaded directly to the internet (cloud storage), not to a computer in a neighbor’s home. In the sample setup the images are stored images are stored for 60 days but it could be longer. If a home in the neighborhood experiences a crime, a group of trusted neighbors can review the saved images for the appropriate time to retrieve images of “non-trusted” vehicles for the Oakland Police Department to use in its investigation. “Non trusted vehicles” are those that are not on the list of neighbors’ vehicle license plate numbers. If there is no reported crime, the images are not watched or monitored.
The neighborhood group had software created so that searching saved images is fairly fast and easy. Still to be developed or bought from a vendor: automatic license plate recognition software to automatically check license plate numbers against a database of trusted license plates and suspicious vehicles compiled by neighborhood groups.
In response to a question about stolen license plates, Mr. Jurcenoks reported that he had discussed the matter with Captain Jeff Israel of the Oakland Police Department, who said that capturing vehicle images, even with stolen license plates, makes it easier for OPD to catch criminals;
Max Horowitz, who works in security, explained that many cameras used by private companies, airports and law enforcement agencies, upload realtime images of passing license plates, which enables the police to track even stolen cars and license plates effectively.
An enormous benefit of this emerging neighborhood security camera system is the data exchange; a criminal in one neighborhood could be traced as he moves through other neighborhoods on the day of the crime and on other days of reported crimes.
Concern about privacy in particular who has access to images was a concern for the audience. Planned solution includes highly limited access to the images captured, only exchange of non-trusted license plates. Designated persons from each group will only have access to images from their own group.
Individual Home Camera Security Systems
There was a question from the audience about ability to contribute privately obtained images to the coordinated system and database, and this feature planned for implementation.
Many people had questions about getting a personal camera system that would cover their homes; this was not part of the purpose of tonight’s meeting but City Council member Libby Schaaf referred questions to the website she created, www.safeoakland.com as it contained information about privately owned system.
Mr. Jurcenoks noted that having both a home security camera and a neighborhood camera system would provide the best of security for homeowners.
One of the services that Neighborhood Guard will provide will be to coordinate experienced between neighbors on which systems work well and how to best install them.
One Neighborhood’s Early Experience
Max Horowitz reported that several of his neighbors had installed individual home camera security systems, the had also investigated public camera solutions but that purchasing software to retrieve images was very expensive (starting at $2,500) and not as good as the software created by “JJ” Jurcenoks.
In order to collect money, it helps for the neighborhood to organize as a kind of group either as a Homeowners Association or as a neighborhood group. Mr. Jurcenoks suggested “unincorporated” under California Revenue and Taxation code 23701t and he will give more information to those interested in forming a group, including board organization, bylaws and a bank that will open a small checking account.
Several people reported that raising money for a neighborhood security system is best done by stating the amount of money needed and how it will be used, then asking for donations without specific “dues” per household. One must be persistent to collect the pledged donations; ask more than once. The issue of some neighbors not donating money but receiving the benefits of the camera security system was mentioned. The general sentiment was that each criminal caught makes each of us safer and that we cannot overcome the propensity of some people to withhold their contributions.
Mr. Jurcenoks has made numerous presentations of Neighborhood Guard to neighborhood groups and will continue to do so when asked, with the help of more volunteers. Also see www.neighborhoodguard.org.
Neighborhood Guard Co-Operative Association
A co-operative is a company owned and run by its members. It is not a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization, and has no limitations on activities and sources of revenue. If members decide to do so, the co-op could encourage Oakland city officials to take steps necessary for security. If the co-op develops a computer system of value, it could be an income producing asset. If the co-op makes money, dividends may be paid to members. Members must share in ongoing expenses. The Neighborhood Guard is a “next generation” co-op; as far as Mr. Jurcenoks knows, there is no other such COOP group for public safety in the world.
Benefits of Membership in Neighborhood Guard Co-op
1. Help each of us create our neighborhood homeowners association.
2. Train us how to install the neighborhood camera security system.
3. Cloud storage of images
4. Access to Neighborhood Guards software to quickly search through saved images if a crime is reported in the neighborhood.
5. Instruction on best ways to report crimes to Oakland Police Department for effective response
6. Continual evaluation of cameras and other neighborhood security measures such as patrols and new services as they become available
7. Buying power of a group
Obligations of Membership in Neighborhood Guard Co-op
1. After we establish our neighborhood, each neighborhood will help three more new neighborhood groups (and each of those will each help three new groups, etc.)
2. Participate: feedback on crime prevention, help make neighborhood guard better, volunteer.
3. Neighborhoods pay annual dues.
Example of Possible Costs (does not include the cost to buy cameras and signs)
First 10 houses $500 “buy in” the first year. Yearly dues of $100 per group plus $100 per camera.
Next 40 houses add $500 “buy in” the first year. Same yearly dues as above.
Next 50 houses add $500 “buy in” the first year. Same yearly dues as above.
a. 8 houses on a cul de sac with one camera will pay $500 to “buy into” the coop the first year and yearly dues of $200.
b. 47 houses with 3 cameras might pay $1,000 to buy into the coop the first year and yearly dues of $400.
c. 92 houses with 2 cameras might pay $1,500 to buy into the coop the first year and yearly dues of $300.
d. 249 houses with 3 cameras might pay $3,000 to buy into the coop the first year and yearly dues of $400.
House count: use Google maps and count all houses whether homeowners are participating or not. Apartment and office buildings: to be determined. No practical minimum number of houses; a small cul-de-sac could install a neighborhood camera.
The By-in money will be used to finance the Video software and new features like Automated License plate recognition.
The annual fee will cover online hosting of Images for the neighborhood group, data exchange services between the groups; state fees etc. Unless the co-op decides to change the Bylaws, all work in the co-op will be unpaid volunteer work.
Camera maintenance: responsibility of homeowners groups and camera manufacturer, with guidance from Neighborhood Guard.
Neighborhood Guard is not associated with, connected to or sponsored by Neighborhood Watch, although existing Neighborhood Watch groups may be interested in joining Neighborhood Guard.
Neighborhood Guard Organization
A interim board and several committees must be formed to launch the co-op.
President – JJ Jurcenoks was acclaimed as interim president
Treasurer – Jacque Hachquet volunteered
Secretary – seeking volunteer to take minutes, maintain member list, filing and paperwork as needed.
Committees: volunteers sought.
At this interim time Individuals may volunteer on committees even if their neighborhood is not participating in the Neighborhood Guard coop yet.
a. Bylaws/Legal – write bylaws, review contracts
b. Public Relations and Marketing – Kay Charney Fillmore volunteered to chair
c. Webmaster including search engine optimization (SEO) and web design with Java script
d. Membership and Recruiting to make presentations to neighborhoods and reach out at neighborhood fairs and other events, seeking more neighborhoods and individual volunteers.
e. Member Services to evaluate new services that may be useful to co op members.
f. Tech support to help member neighborhood organizations and to evaluate tech features of proposed new services,
g. Software Development to look at the software developed by and donated by JJ Jurcenoks and to add new features as needed
15 new volunteers signed up for committees and positions of trust.
To volunteer to serve on a committee or as secretary or to be included on the group email list, please email Mr. Jurcenoks at
firstname.lastname@example.org or respond via www.neighborhoodguard.org.
To make this co-op work well, we must spread the work among many volunteers and neighborhoods throughout Oakland.
Next meeting: to be announced.