Arroyo Grande tape missing 80 minutes
September 9, 2014
By KAREN VELIE and DANIEL BLACKBURN
Surveillance video provided by Arroyo Grande officials showing interior and exterior views of City Hall on July 3 — when a reported late night rendezvous involving two top employees occurred — is missing 80 critical minutes.
The videos were provided to CalCoastNews in response to a public records request seeking additional information on a police response to reports of a missing person. When officers arrived at City Hall shortly before midnight, they discovered City Manager Steve Adams looking “disheveled,” and a partially dressed Community Development Director Teresa McClish peeking from behind her boss’s door. Adams told police McClish was not there, and then became angry with officers, according to officer reports.
On Sept. 2, CalCoastNews made a public records request for a copy of the official surveillance video from five cameras inside City Hall, and three positioned outside the building, spanning an eight-hour period, 4 p.m. through midnight on July 3.
City Clerk Kelly Wetmore responded by providing a copy that is missing several segments including from 10:07 p.m. through 11:28 p.m., a time during which Adams and McClish were inside the building. (City Hall videos appear to be time-stamped 37 minutes faster than local time.)
Additionally, City Hall camera eight is missing almost an hour, and video from camera six was not included in the city made video.
Wetmore has not yet responded to a public records request for the missing segments, and a request to provide an explanation about the missing segments in the original request.
Arroyo Grande has two sets of surveillance cameras: eight city hall cameras and 10 Blue Watch camera units. In addition to the 80-minute segment missing from the City Hall cameras, a public records request for copies of the Blue Watch surveillance video made from a four-lens camera outside Robert’s Restaurant resulted in a city video that was also missing segments.
In the original tape provided by the city, the video from Camera two skips from 20:59:59 and starts back up at 23:00:00, while video from lens four skips from 20:59:59 to 22:00:00. The other two lenses have no long skips.
An analysis of the video indicates several significant portions of both videos where either delete or not copied.
Chief Steve Annibali explained the missing segments as issues with the wireless feed, and then provided complete video copies taken from the hard drive inside the Blue Watch camera unit, which included the previously missing segments.
Each of the city’s ten Blue Watch surveillance camera units sends a wireless signal to a tower above the city, which is then sent to the police department where a copy of the wireless feed is kept. Another copy not impacted by wireless interference is kept on the hard-drive, Annibali said.
Nevertheless, employees with Security Lines US, the company that installed the cameras, said that segments missing because of wireless feeds would be uniform amongst the four camera lenses on each unit, impeaching Annibali’s explanation.
CalCoastNews is providing portions of the dozens of hours of video received through public records requests. The video includes time stamps that correlate with some of the following times. At the end of the video, note that camera lens four is missing a segment between 8:59:59 and 10:00:00.
At 8:27 p.m., Adams and McClish leave the grand opening of Roberts Restaurant, which is across the street from City Hall, and walk to Rooster Creek for another glass of wine.
At 9:39, McClish walks across Mason Street and gets into her car parked at City Hall.
At 9:46, Adams crosses Mason Street about two car lengths from the brightly lit crosswalk. As he nears McClish’s car, several people leave Roberts Restaurant. Adams then turns and runs back across the street.
At 9:51, the people who departed Roberts Restaurant drive away, McClish flashes her car lights and Adams dashes back across the street towards McClish’s car.
Several segments of the Blue Watch video: