Legislation debated Wednesday before the New York City Council would force the NYPD to disclose some details about surveillance technology such as cellphone-tower replicators, X-ray vans, and license-plate readers. The NYPD also would need to adopt what lawmakers say are privacy disclosures similar to those of the Department of Homeland Security and other municipalities. Under the POST Act —short for Public Oversight of Police Technology— the NYPD would need to publicly disclose each item’s current and future “impact and use policies,” seek public feedback, and explain whether court permission is needed for deployment.
With recent statements by Reno (NV) Police, arguments made by those against the usage of video surveillance —such as the ACLU— should start to understand that overall, video surveillance is indeed making an impact on crime. Many times, those arguments go along the lines that video surveillance does not decrease crime, only helps to arrest criminals. However, if the use of video surveillance is helping to capture, arrest, and prosecute criminal offenders, then that is removing criminals from repeating crimes and causing injury. Reno Police say the main reason detectives were able to solve this recently case was the quality and amount of surveillance video provided by victims and adjacent businesses.
Legislation approved by the Pennsylvania state Senate on Wednesday seeks to clear legal hurdles for police departments to expand their officers’ use of body cameras, and it gives departments the discretion to refuse public requests for copies of audio or video recordings by officers. The bill, which passed 47-1 after brief comments on the Senate floor, would add Pennsylvania to a growing list of states that are setting statewide policy over the collection of audio and video by officers, including from dashboard and body cameras.
Hackers infected 70 percent of storage devices that record data from D.C. police surveillance cameras eight days before President Trump’s inauguration, forcing major citywide reinstallation efforts, according to the police and the city’s technology office. City officials said ransomware left police cameras unable to record between Jan. 12 and Jan. 15.
A city councilor wants to deploy drones to monitor high-crime neighborhoods and provide an extra measure of security at major community events – an idea that raises privacy concerns with the ACLU of Massachusetts. Brian K. Gomes’ proposal, which is not expected to be heard until next month or possibly January, calls for a meeting between the City Council’s Committee on Public Safety and Neighborhoods and Police Chief Joseph C. Cordeiro to discuss the use of drones. “I think it can be a crime fighter, undercover surveillance in neighborhoods across the city where we have problems,” Gomes said. “It’s another tool for the Police Department to fight crime.”
There is no clear picture whether the Huntington (West Virginia) Police Department can, or even should, invest in body-worn cameras for its officers as circumstances now stand, Chief Joe Ciccarelli said. The potential cost – in purchase, maintenance and storage – could potentially drain hundreds of thousands of dollars from the department, Ciccarelli said, with the do’s and don’t’s still shrouded in a legal gray area.
Minnesota’s complex debate about police body-cameras takes a new turn in St. Paul Wednesday. The City Council will hold a public hearing at 5:30 p.m. to consider the draft policy released last week by the St. Paul Police Department governing use of the cameras that are typically clipped to an officer’s uniform. In a discussion that involves competing interests and tradeoffs, there’s lots to digest as the department prepares, beginning next week, to test two camera systems over 60 days in its Western District.
Legislation approved by the Pennsylvania state Senate on Wednesday would let police departments across the state refuse public requests for copies of video recordings by officers, unless a court orders the release. The bill sets a sweeping policy to exempt recordings from body cameras and dashboard cameras from public records requests in Pennsylvania.
Video technology and terrorism have in many ways revolutionized American policing. Since 9/11, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) has built up a network of some 8,000 surveillance cameras constantly on watch over its streets, tunnels, and bridges. And this week police were able to glean information from grainy captured images, identify a suspect behind last week’s pressure-cooker terror bombing, Ahmad Khan Rahami, and then capture him quickly within a 48-hour span. But what some might call the brave new world of video surveillance has had its flip side, too. Dashboard camera technology, the growing use of clipped-on body cams, and of course the presence of civilian smartphones – each has become part of a rough-and-ready system of checks and balances between police and civilians, operating now in a fast-evolving landscape in which proliferating digital lenses record more and more encounters on the street.
Sacramento —like New York, Houston, Miami, St. Louis, and other cities before it— is looking at the next step: the launch in October of a “real-time crime center,” a central location from which officers could monitor all their existing surveillance technologies, PODs included. The idea is that consolidating information about criminal activity —from stalking complaints to potential lone wolf terrorist attacks— would make law enforcement more effective at investigating and perhaps preventing some incidents. The process would also promote accountability and transparency at a time of rising tension between police and the black community, providing evidence of both police and suspect behavior during tense encounters, proponents say.