San Francisco Police Commission
approves crime cameras
By Brent Begin, Bay City News Service
November 15, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - The San Francisco police commission
unanimously approved a plan Wednesday night to install most of
the 22 new cameras proposed in high crime areas of the city.
The vote came after hours of public testimony, mostly in support
of monitoring high-crime areas, but some questioning the potential
strain on privacy rights.
Allen Nance, the director of the mayor's office of criminal justice,
presented the abilities and goals of the cameras to the commission.
He said the role of the cameras would be to deter crime, in keeping
with a Board of Supervisors ordinance.
Director of Criminal Justice Allen Nance
Commissioner Theresa Sparks said she wholeheartedly supported
"As far as I'm concerned, you can put a camera on every
corner in the Tenderloin and I'd be fine with it," said Sparks,
who added that she hoped the cameras would be installed immediately.
Commissioner Theresa Sparks
The American Civil Liberties Union, however, opposed the installation
of the cameras because the group claims they would lead to an
Orwellian invasion of privacy without actually deterring crime.
Mark Schlossberg, an ACLU attorney, said spending the money on
other more effective means of combating crime such as improved
foot patrols, community policing and improved lighting conditions
would be a better use of the city's money.
ACLU spokesperson Mark Schlossberg
Commissioners said they supported the idea of public surveillance.
Some did bring up problems, however, with the notice given to
neighborhood residents and the decision to place cameras where
homicides have actually occurred.
Mayor Gavin Newsom unveiled the plan in September to install
50 cameras throughout the city. But according to Nash, the mayor's
office hasn't secured the funding to fulfill that goal yet.
So far, at least one camera has helped police capture a man suspected
of shooting a 13-year-old girl in the leg in front of the Alemany
The cameras are slated to be installed at 24th and Mission streets,
Geneva Avenue and Mission Street, Turk and Taylor streets, Ellis
and Jones streets and at 1050 McAllister St.
Cameras meant to be installed on 16th and Mission streets will
be delayed because of a request from Supervisor Chris Daly to
be heard at a future meeting.
With the long line of public speakers, few saw much of what happened
later in the night.
The commission decided the disciplinary charges for Lt. Jerry
Lankford who was caught driving around in his black Cadillac Escalade
with a towel over his license plate.
The commission did not announce its decision in public, but they
were going by a recommendation from Chief Heather Fong that Lankford
serve a 120-day suspension and be entered into a mandatory anger
management class as well as a substance abuse program.
Also at tonight's meeting, commissioners barely defeated a proposal
from Commissioner Petra DeJesus that would have made deals in
disciplinary hearings settled in private a matter of public record.
Commissioners cited a recent California Supreme Court ruling
that affirmed the confidentiality of peace officer records.
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