San Francisco

SF Mayor Proposes Expanded Police Access to Surveillance Cameras to Fight Crime

Breed says revised ordinance would allow police to monitor cameras in real-time during critical situations

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San Francisco Mayor London Breed is looking to expand how police can use public surveillance cameras, and she says it's all in the name of safety.

In an effort to crack down on crime across the city, Breed has introduced a plan that would make changes to the current surveillance ordinance. The plan would expand the situations in which police would be able to use surveillance cameras to solve crimes.

Breed's plan calls for SFPD to have a increased access to surveillance cameras across the city and in turn be allowed to monitor the cameras in real time.

The mayor's office says the ordinance would allow cameras to be monitored live in two types of situations: critical events and in public safety crisis areas.

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Critical events include: mass assaults using firearms, vehicles or other dangerous weapons; actual or suspected terrorist acts; hostage and kidnapping incidents; arson; organized theft or burglary; looting or rioting.

Public safety crisis areas include: areas with repeated or sustained high levels of criminal activity; open-air illegal drug markets, where public drug sales and use inhibit public access to community amenities and services, such as public transit, parks and playgrounds; areas where there has been a documented increase in violent crimes over a period of 14 days or longer.

The new legislation would be an amendment to the existing Surveillance Technology Ordinance passed in 2019, which limits when and why cameras can be used.

Breed was set to introduce the legislation to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. If the supervisors cannot decide the issue, it will be left to voters.

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