District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin, Mayor London Breed, and the San Francisco Police Department are cooperating on a plan that would allow police to temporarily access non-city-owned cameras during circumstances “that involve imminent danger of death or imminent danger of serious physical injury — as well as during significant events with public safety concerns, and investigations relating to active misdemeanor and felony violations,” according to the mayor’s office. Currently, law enforcement is barred from viewing live video footage from third-party cameras except when there is imminent danger of death or serious injury.
That might be a seemingly small change, but in a city like San Francisco, any change to law enforcement comes with lots of qualifications and worries about privacy. The new policy would come with oversight provisions and restrictions on the camera usage, data retention and disposal, use of facial recognition technology, and more.
Peskin said the cooperative approach to new camera rules “is about ensuring an effective response to crime on our streets while safeguarding against the real threats of a surveillance state.”