News & Events

Letter to Supervisor Yee RE: Anti Video Surveillance Law

May 2, 2019

Supervisor Norman Yee
President, Board of Supervisors
City Hall
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102

Dear Supervisor Yee,

Please amend the “Acquisition of Surveillance Technology” ordinance so it clearly allows the police department to use video from security cameras voluntarily provided by private homes and businesses.

There is a property crime epidemic in San Francisco and police need private security video footage to solve crimes. The amendment on page 12 (lines 6-9) only says police can receive private video. It should clearly say police can also use private video.

I’m also worried about where it says police can receive private video only if it complies with all other parts of the ordinance (page 12, lines 8-9). The legislation contains many requirements meant for city departments that would be onerous if applied to private citizens and businesses. This part should be deleted.

Even more troubling is language (Page 10, lines 3-6 and 16-18) that says the police department must get full Board of Supervisors approval before working with a private entity that regularly provides video. This could jeopardize longstanding relationships with non-profits, private businesses and merchant associations that work closely with police. And it could jeopardize public safety.

These are the recommendations of Stop Crime SF, a group of more than 500 San Francisco
residents working to reduce crime. We agree with Stop Crime SF that this legislation addresses legitimate concerns about privacy and civil liberties. But I also agree that more needs to be fixed so this law doesn’t end up making us less safe.

Thank you for your consideration.


Joan Van Rijn
Miraloma Park Improvement Club