Suicide cameras proposed to reduce Caltrain deaths

Officials with the City of Palo Alto are proposing to install cameras at a Caltrain crossing to prevent future track deaths.

The idea is aimed mainly at preventing teen suicides, city spokeswoman Claudia Keith said.

The thermal camera system at the Meadow Avenue crossing can detect the difference between a person, animal or vehicle along the tracks and send a signal to 911. The three-camera system would scan the tracks for a mile in either direction, Keith said.

Caltrain spokesman Will Reisman said this would be the first time cameras would be set up in the Caltrain right-of-way:

“This is completely unexplored technology.”

As part of the suicide prevention effort, city officials are also proposing other changes to the corridor, such as removing brush and replacing four miles of fence along the eastside of the corridor, Keith said.

She said officials also want to add an 18-inch curved winglet to the new fence deter people from climbing over.

In general, she said, “people are supportive” of the proposal. But she added that residents might want to change aspects of it, such as the height of the fence.

Residents interested in suggesting changes can do so at a 6:30 p.m. meeting July 27 at the Mitchell Park Community Center, 3700 Middlefield Road.

The plan is to start the project in August and complete it in September, Keith said.