In the last two years, the Union Square BID secured a total of $2,500,000 from a donor-advised fund of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF) to deploy approximately 320 security cameras in Union Square. In 2015, SVCF awarded the USBID $2,000,000 to launch the project, followed by a $500,000 award in 2016. In addition, a portion of the monies ($700,000) was used to launch security camera efforts in mid-Market and the Tenderloin. To date, the security cameras have assisted SFPD and the District Attorney’s office with a rash of “smash and grab” thefts in Union Square, resulting in dozens of arrests.
Security cameras are not a guarantee against crimes. The general public (visitors) and USBID members should be aware that a security officer is not watching the cameras most of the time and they should not have an expectation that they are under continuous surveillance when they are within the range of a camera. For example, if a visitor to the area or a USBID member has a crime committed against them, they should not expect someone necessarily to come to their rescue because they are in front of a camera and they should call 911 (emergency) or the SFPD immediately. The general public, USBID members, and visitors should also be aware that the video surveillance system has cameras that only cover a portion of the public space within the USBID and even when camera coverage exists, it may not provide the level of detail necessary to identify suspicious activity or identify criminals.