Monday, August 21, 2006

As Fresno Goes, So Goes the Country....

Thanks to Mike Rhodes for the following report on police zooming in on our remaining shards of privacy....

Will Big Brother be watching? The Fresno Police Department video surveillance project will be discussed on Tuesday, August 22 at 3:15 PM at the Fresno City Council meeting at City Hall, 2600 Fresno Street. The FPD will ask the City Council to adopt a policy manual for the use of the video equipment. Funding for this project will not be granted until the policy manual is approved.
As a member of the panel (appointed by Jerry Duncan) I helped write the manual. Unfortunately, there are several sections of the manual that were changed, at the last minute by the FPD, that are contrary to the agreements made by the panel members. Therefore, I will be at the City Council meeting to oppose the document.

The most critical and unacceptable sections of the policy manual are:

1. The policy manual, as re-written by the FPD, now says they will use the cameras to monitor political demonstrations. The draft written by the panel said: No cameras will have the ability to view any images of locations such as but not limited to:

. . .

A peaceful political demonstration or gathering.

. . .

That language has since been deleted and has been replaced, on page 10, with the following: "Demonstrations or rallies of any kind may be actively monitored only for potential criminal activities or crowd management."

2. There is no oversight (other than the FPD) to monitor the project. The panel, at our last meeting on July 27, directed Captain Maroney to include language in the policy manual that gave someone outside of the police department the ability to look at the operation of the video surveillance project. How will we know if there is a problem or abuse taking place if only the FPD oversee their own project?

3. There is no review/evaluation process. We need to evaluate the effectiveness of the Video Policing project. Is this a good use of taxpayers money? How will we know if we don’t review this project? A section should be added that puts a trigger in place for an annual (or semi-annual) review of the project.

4. The FPD changed the language in the final draft of the policy manual to allow them to follow people (track them) around town with the video cameras without getting a warrant. If the police want to follow you around town now, they need to go to a judge and show probable cause for why they want to follow you. This is called judicial review. The new language, changed without discussion with the panel who wrote the manual, removes this judicial oversight and says all that is required is "articulable reasonable suspicion" by the camera operator to follow you around town.

I’m asking you to join me at the City Council meeting and voice your concern about the FPD video surveillance project.

For background information about this story, see:

To send an email or fax to your City Council member, go to:


"There was of course, no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. . . you had to live, did live, from habit that became instinct, in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized."

—George Orwell, 1984


At 9:15 AM, Anonymous Tony said...

See, it's crap like this that gives or is going to give FPD a bad name for themselves. Do they think people are THAT stupid, not to question them? What's with the mentality here? The problem is this, they damn well knew they had made changes and are trying to force it through without question. Perhaps nobody will notice or show up? Well, good going, glad someone caught this. I wonder how many things get through the cracks this way... this is very annoying and certainly doesn't breed a trusting situation between the public and the FPD does it? Great examples!!


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