A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Watching you: Eyes above downtown corner

Written August 31st, 2023 by Hasso Hering

This surveillance device towered over the corner of Second and Broadalbin Thursday night.

Police-type lights were flashing blue and red in the sky over downtown Albany Thursday. On a bike ride Thursday night, I saw them from blocks away. What was going on?

The flashing lights topped a tall mast that rose from a stationary trailer parked in front of the old city hall at Second Avenue and Broadalbin Street. Also at the top: At least two cameras, or that’s the way it looked.

According to signage on the trailer, it’s a surveillance system made by Mobile Pro Systems in West St. Paul, Minn.  On its website, the company touts its equipment for law enforcement, event security and just security in general.

The City of Albany Emergency Management program evidently bought the device, which its makers call Commander 3400, with “grant funding” from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

It was way past office hours when I saw the thing on the eve of  Labor Day weekend, and no one was around to explain why the city would buy a surveillance system like this with Homeland Security money, or how much the thing cost.

The main question, though, was: What was it doing there, surveilling or ready to surveil people at this downtown corner?

Here’s my guess: On Saturday, thousands of people are expected to throng that very corner and the streets in four directions. The occasion is what the organizers call the second annual downtown block party.

There will be food, beer, games and musical acts. The stage for the performers will be set up in the middle of the 200 block of Second Avenue West. The food and beer will be for sale. The games and music will be free.

If you want more information, look it up on Facebook, where the Sept. 2, 2023, block party has been promoted ever since the first one a year ago.

With a crowd crammed together near that corner, maybe it will be a good idea to keep an eye on the place from above. Just in case an emergency comes up. (hh)

22 responses to “Watching you: Eyes above downtown corner”

  1. Cap B. says:

    Ya think, Hasso!! Yes, it would be a good idea to keep an eye on the crowd! Everyone (except me) is packin’. And, nowadays one doesn’t have to finish that sentence with an object that explains what is being packed. Guns, Hasso, guns. And they fancied up the downtown, but CARA and Albany are out of step. The world has moved on and is now a very dangerous place and many people need food and a place to sleep. I also notice that when you took the picture the downtown was as empty as an abandoned movie set in L.A.

    • Realistic Citizen says:

      Cap B;
      One doesn’t need to be concerned with licensed carriers, it’s the other group that one needs to be concerned with.

      Remember that licensed carriers actually commit less violent crime that police officers nation wide.

  2. Anony Mouse says:

    Some Antifa activists from Portland should join the party and genuflect before the watchful eyes of the Commander 3400.

    The city can then show their admiration by flying the Antifa flag in a window at City Hall.

    Welcome to Oceania.

  3. CHEZZ says:

    Thank you Albany Emergency Mgmt. for taking a proactive approach to events, crowd control, and possibilities of intrusion. This action taken is a much better approach to monitor gatherings versus reactive knee jerk comments and thoughts that are negative.
    Hope to see you there!

  4. khszz says:

    Monitoring is a good thing, safety fo people attending.

  5. Marianne Poole says:

    Hasso is the best Albany news resource we have and we should thank him for keeping us informed. So thank you Hasso. I appreciate you.

    • Hasso Hering says:

      Well, thanks for the sentiment, but there’s not a lot of news on this site. I write about what I see, often from the bike, and what I hear about. And only if it interests me. And that leaves out a great lot of what passes for news.

  6. Brad Gaylord says:

    I have seen the same trailers in almost every walmart parking lot I have been to in Oregon and Idaho for going on about 3 years now. That being said they can’t be too expensive because the Caldwell, Id walmart had like 5 or 6 of them about 3 years ago. Back then they were called “lot-cop”. And I belive their is one at the albany walmart and also either at the 76 gas station or the Honda dealer next to walmart. Sure here soon you will see them everywhere. And if your not doing anything wrong you don’t really have much to worrie about other than our tax money being spent On over priced equipment

    • Cheryl P says:

      “And if your not doing anything wrong you don’t really have much to worrie about… ”

      Who was it who said: “if there are no Jews in the house you should have no problem opening your doors for us to verify.”?

      How much of our privacy and freedom are we willing to surrender in the name of ‘safety’ or whatever male bovine excrement you want to call it? A knife cuts both ways.

      • Ray Kopczynski says:

        So why do folks (and businesses too) bother having their myriad private “security cameras” on many-many homes in most neighborhoods? Only the paranoid survive?

      • Brad Gaylord says:

        I am all about my freedoms and as a veteran I belive I have a better understanding and appreciation for my rights but here’s the thing when you get big events going in today’s world something like that over priced ($84,000) camera will help alot if their was and emergancy at that event such as a amber alert, fire, or even a active shooter or other terrorist threats. And having a “biger” band like everclear on the list to preform security needs to be top priority. We are lucky here in oregon that we have not had more incidents. But after the event the the camera should be relocated

      • Chad Richey says:

        I agree. Great comment Cheryl!

  7. Bill Kapaun says:

    If the City feels they need THAT MUCH security, why would they even hold the event?

  8. Kevin says:

    Why did you put grant funds in quotes? Are you implying it was not funded this way? Just curious.

  9. Bill Kapaun says:

    Another blatant disregard for those riding bicycles. Instead of putting it on the other side of the street, they chose to obstruct the bike lane.

  10. Chad Richey says:

    Did they put it up for the city’s pride party or just the concert?


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