Mayor London Breed’s priorities are all over your March 5 primary ballot, including one measure that proposes to give San Francisco police expanded use of drones and surveillance cameras.
There were no San Francisco elections in 2023, but 2024 is obviously going to be quite a big-deal election year. And it kicks off in less than two months with your March 5 primary election, which here in SF has a $300 million affordable housing bond, the eighth-grade algebra issue, and some manner of ethics thing that would limit gifts city employees can accept. There's also Supervisor Ahsha Safai’s measure that ties police staffing to tax increases, and a few other measures pushed by Mayor London Breed — including a real estate transfer tax exemption, and drug screening for welfare recipients.
But KPIX reports on another measure Breed is pushing, which would give SF police more surveillance technology, including drone use and more surveillance cameras. And the tech and founder crowd loves the idea, as the Chronicle reported last month that Ron Conway and Ripple co-founder Chris Larsen have donated a combined $350,000 in support of the measure.
It’s called Proposition E, and it’s not just a drone measure. The exact text of the measure proposes to “reduce recordkeeping and reporting requirements for police officers,” and allow police to engage in more car chases. But it also proposes to “authorize the Police Department to use drones and install public surveillance cameras without further approval,” and takes a great deal of surveillance technology approval out of the hands of the SF Police Commission oversight body.
"It's just one more tool to kind of level the playing field," SF Police Officers Association President Tracy McCray tells KPIX. "We need more tools so when we feel a pursuit has crossed that threshold to be more dangerous than, you know, maybe apprehending them at the time, it'd be nice if we could lift the drone up, and say, 'Okay, they can follow.'"
Naturally, the ACLU hates the idea. That organization said in a Wednesday press release that Proposition E “dramatically increases secret surveillance by allowing the police to track and monitor San Francisco residents without safety policies, public input, or oversight to protect our rights. It eliminates guardrails and lets police use highly invasive surveillance technology – even face-scanning drones.”
According to Mission Local, Proposition E would also allow SFPD to engage in car chases when a “violent misdemeanor crime has occurred, is occurring, or is about to occur.”
Image: Goh Rhy Yan via Unsplash