The council approved a process that would require the Human Relations Commission to review the licensing process once a year. Medina said the council is already full, and advised the establishment of a governing body to oversee and coordinate the work between residents and the police.
He added that an independent watchdog could monitor whether police were cracking down on other cameras, assessing whether the cameras had actually helped reduce crime, and prosecuting city officials. “How do we know that ALPR is not being used in a particular area, such as bullying police in some areas and in other areas?” He asked.
Pedro Rios, director of the American Friends Service Committee’s US / Mexico Border Program, questioned how police define “personal information.” He said California law prohibits law enforcement from sharing your information with immigration agencies such as ICE. But when Rios sent a letter to the opposing police sharing this information, police said the ALPR’s allegations were “unknown.”
“They freed themselves,” Rios says.
“The Chula Vista Police Department always welcomes all stakeholders, whether they are complex or allies, and they are all disorganized,” Captain Eric Thunberg, a spokesman for the department’s public relations department, told WIRED. “We believe we do a good job, but we always look for the best and provide the services fairly, respectfully and kindly in our community.”
In a statement, the city administration’s office confirmed that the council’s decision was consistent and included new security measures, including regular monitoring and review. “These activities are designed to help alleviate public concerns about privacy and the need for an essential public safety tool,” the email said.
The city has also requested an independent investigation from the California Department of Justice and has stopped sharing information with any federal agency or police offices outside California.
The outcry against the ALPR system, in the midst of a global police dialogue and migration, has prompted some to consider the city’s intelligence tools, a dramatic change after years of silent confession.
At the council meeting, citizens also expressed concern about the city’s drone program. Several have noticed that drones are often used for non-hazardous activities, such as overcrowding or homelessness lying on a bench or a road. The city’s most expensive drones (new DJI Matrice 210 V2 Drones) cost $ 35,000 each and requires supervisors to be trained to fly. The police said so used drones answering 1,300 call for jobs so far this year. Similar to the ALPR, it does not have a local management team. Police are publicly announcing drone pilots, but, as paper readers, Medina and others cite similarities.
Kennedy said drones could be sent in front of supervisors to determine if a police response is necessary, given that, in about 300 cases, police decided not to send a police officer.
About 1,600 state and region government security agencies have acquired drones since March 2020, according to the Center for the Study of the Drone. Chula Vista is the first city in the country granted special FAA approval the use of police drones in 100 percent of the city. Some cities may want to follow.
In emails available to Forbes, Skydio’s community liaison leader William Reber, a former police officer in Chula Vista, told the city’s former police chief that one of the goals of approving the special drone was to “find a race that would be approved by other organizations.”
The city’s drone and ALPR machines are still evolving, indicating that they can be seen in other cities. While the city has promised to use its lighting equipment, its relief to people who feel that the items will be phased out elsewhere.
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