City View Church serves as venue for San Diego police’s community meeting over surveillance tech proposal

City View Church at Mission Valley was used as a venue for a community meeting held by the San Diego police to discuss their proposal for surveillance technology. (Photo by Maxim Hopman from Unsplash)

On Wednesday, March 8, City View Church in Mission Valley served as the venue for the San Diego police’s community meeting over the proposed surveillance technology in the city.

Community Meeting

According to a report by the San Diego Union-Tribune, during the meeting, Jean-Huy Tran, who resides in North Park, expressed concerns that the use of cameras could result in unfair treatment of certain racial groups by law enforcement. 

He was also worried that other organizations might be able to purchase access to the recorded data. 

Tran asked the police if they would ensure that any contracts related to the cameras would strictly protect citizens' privacy. 

In response, San Diego Police Capt. Jeff Jordon assured attendees.

He stated that external entities such as the DMV and federal immigration authorities would not have the ability to view the recorded data.

Meanwhile, another San Diego resident, Camille Harris, inquired about the measures that the department intended to take to gather and safeguard the camera data from potential hackers. 

In response, Jordon explained that the data would be protected by 256-bit end-to-end encryption, which is a highly secure method for safeguarding data. 

Some other residents also expressed concern that the policies that regulate the technology might change over time, giving the city the ability to incorporate features like facial recognition.

Jordon assured community members that the cameras would not be utilized for purposes such as facial recognition, gunshot detection, or traffic enforcement. 

He also stated that if the city plans to implement new technological features, the police department would need to seek feedback from the community. 

Push for Surveillance Tech

According to Jordon, the topic of surveillance and privacy rights can be very controversial, and the meetings allowed for open and constructive discussions on these issues. 

This is the first major attempt to implement surveillance technology in San Diego since the city passed regulations last year that established guidelines for this type of technology. 

The proposed plan involves installing 500 Smart Streetlights between Carmel Mountain Ranch and San Ysidro at an estimated cost of $4 million. 

The San Diego police presented the plan at nine community meetings, one for each council district.

These meetings took place in various locations throughout the city, such as libraries, churches, and recreation centers. 

According to police officials, these meetings were attended by an average of 20 to 50 people each.

Like the meeting at City View Church, some people endorsed the concept of using advanced streetlights to aid law enforcement in resolving or preventing serious crimes.

Meanwhile, others expressed reservations about it. 

The city's surveillance ordinances mandate the meeting procedure, and the input gathered will be utilized to create a Surveillance Impact Report, as stipulated by the ordinance. 

Along with feedback from the community, the report will include pertinent details such as the technology's purpose, location, cost, and methods for protecting the gathered data.

The report was initially scheduled to be submitted to the Privacy Advisory Board on March 15, but this has been postponed. 

Once the police department submits the report to the privacy board, it will then be presented to the City Council.


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