The San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) will be able to access live private video surveillance cameras after the San Francisco Board approved it in a vote Tuesday. The law, proposed in May by Democratic Mayor London Breed, will take effect in 30 days and will be in effect for the next 15 months.
As long as private companies and residents authorize it, police will not need a court order to review recordings and even monitor live streaming that "affects public safety or a criminal investigation."
Voices against access to private cameras are already emerging. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) called it a "troubling ordinance," as police will have the ability to monitor the entire city live at all times. Also, they point out that the rights guaranteed in the First Amendment are violated:
The ordinance allows police to surveil 'significant events,' loosely defined as large or high-profile events, 'for placement of police personnel.' This essentially gives police a green light to monitor in real-time protests and other First Amendment-protected activities, so long as they require barricades or street closures associated with public gatherings.
🚨 Tomorrow, 9/20, the Board of Supervisors will vote on a controversial surveillance bill that would give police unprecedented power to conduct live surveillance & endanger civil liberties. 🚨
🧵 Here's a thread to catch you up on what's happening.
- EFF (@EFF) September 20, 2022
Separately, the EFF noted in its statement that "they (San Francisco police) have already been caught using cameras to monitor the George Floyd murder protests or the San Francisco Pride Parade without a warrant."
High percentage of robberies and police underfunding
In the last five years, almost half of San Francisco citizens (45%) were robbed. The former San Francisco supervisor said that personal experience with crime was "extraordinarily high":
When a car is broken into, and things have been stolen, there’s a sense of personal violation — especially if it occurred on the street where you live. The fact that you could have been out there when it happened, and what if you had interrupted it? Those things go through people’s minds.
Crime in San Francisco is directly linked to the defunding of the police. Mayor Breed was among the Democratic politicians who supported defunding law enforcement and diverted $120 million. Some time later, he acknowledged his regret due to the increase in crime in the city.