San Francisco mayor introduces camera access legislation

SAN FRANCISCO, May 18 (Xinhua) -- The mayor of San Francisco, in the western U.S. state of California, on Wednesday introduced legislation improving and clarifying local laws governing the use of cameras during situations with serious public safety impacts and in neighborhoods facing critical public safety challenges.

This ordinance is part of a citywide, multi-departmental adoption of technology use policies to strategically use technological advances to strengthen and expand the delivery of city services to residents, businesses, visitors, and neighborhoods, said a news release from the office of Mayor London Breed.

Departments with forthcoming technology use policies include the airport, Department of Elections, Fire Department, Juvenile Probation Department, Municipal Transportation Agency, Public Library, Recreation and Parks Department, and War Memorial.

The legislation will clarify and explicitly authorize law enforcement to temporarily use non-city-owned cameras to respond to the challenges presented by organized criminal activity, homicides, gun violence, and officer misconduct, among other crimes, while strengthening critical safeguards and oversight to prevent misuse.

"This balanced proposal will help police deal with urgent public safety events, as well as support criminal investigations around issues like violent crime, retail theft, and drug dealing in our residential neighborhoods," said Breed.

Under the conditions outlined in the ordinance, temporary live monitoring will cease, and the connection will be severed within 24 hours after the non-city entity has provided access to San Francisco Police Department.

The Department has considered and carved out safeguards relating to potential impacts on the right to privacy, loss of liberty, warrantless searches, and equal protections when making requests for non-governmental camera footage or temporary live monitoring of non-city-owned cameras, according to the news release.

"Authorizing this ordinance will provide the necessary temporary access and tools necessary to solve crimes related to homicides, gun violence, retail theft, and drug dealing," said city police chief William Scott.

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