Police Commission approves
more public safety cameras
Leno bill discussed
Police Commissioners Petra DeJesus, Yvonne Lee, David Campos,
Joe Marshall and Theresa Sparks voted unanimously to authorized
the installation of three public safety cameras at the intersection
of Haight and Webster streets.
By Brent Begin, Bay City News Service
April 4, 2007
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - The San Francisco Police Commission
approved crime cameras at one more spot in the city but made it
clear that no more would be approved until their effectiveness
Three cameras will soon go up at Haight and Webster streets after
a unanimous vote from the commission, but members addressed civil
rights concerns by adding provisions that the cameras will have
to be turned off during lawful demonstrations and parades.
Commissioner Yvonne Lee said she would only approve this location
because it should have been part of an original pilot program
designed to test usefulness of the cameras.
"I hope there will be no further requests until we see the
effect that they have on the community," Lee said.
Commissioner Yvonne Lee
Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice Director Lenore Anderson told
Fog City that some camera locations have shown as much as a 30%
decline in overall crime activity, but was unable to offer specifics.
Lenore said a report detailing crime deterrence and detection
effectiveness is due to be released in August.
Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice Director Lenore Anderson
There are 55 cameras installed in the city already, each at a
cost of $12,000 each, Lenore said.
Commissioner David Campos said he wasn't concerned about the
monetary costs of the program.
"I do think that the cost is pretty high and I think the
cost is civil liberties and I think we should be mindful of that,"
Campos said. "We shouldn't vote for something unless we're
sure it works."
Commission Vice President David Campos
Also at tonight's meeting, Campos submitted a resolution urging
the mayor and Board of Supervisors to support an assembly bill
that would change state legislation to make police disciplinary
records open to the public.
Before a California Supreme Court decision in 2006 upheld peace
officer confidentiality laws, the San Francisco Police Commission,
along with other police oversight boards throughout the state,
regularly held open hearings on disciplinary cases from police
brutality to off-duty drunk driving arrests.
Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, has proposed a bill that
would require that hearings be again conducted in public.
The commission unanimously approved a resolution supporting that
bill despite protests from the members of the San Francisco Police
Officers Association and the chief of police.
John Tennant, the police union's legal counsel, said the bill
was "far too far in the wrong direction." Tennant added
that revealing an officer's identity opens him or her to ridicule
before anything has been proven at trial.
POA counsel John Tennant
He also added that there were a number of methods to learn about
police disciplinary matters such as through a "Pitchess motion"
where a lawsuit filed against an officer opens his records to
Police Chief Heather Fong said she supports open hearings when
an officer requests it, but she said that exposing an officer's
identity makes it difficult for them to return from a high profile
disciplinary case and become a good cop again.
"Police officers make mistakes as does everybody else in
society," Fong said.
Police Chief Heather Fong
Campos mentioned that Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton
supported Leno's bill. Campos added that he has a great deal of
respect for police officers in the department and that they would
gain more respect among San Franciscans if their actions were
Commissioner Theresa Sparks said that police officers are authorized
"to in certain circumstances use deadly force," and
that should put officers who carry guns at a higher level of scrutiny.
Commission President Louise Renne was absent from tonight's meeting.
Luke Thomas contributed to this report.
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