September 21, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 21, 2016
CONTACT:
For Florida-specific info: ACLU of Florida Media Office, 786.363.2737, media@aclufl.org
For nationwide campaign info: Gabriela Melendez, 202.906.9605, gmelendez@aclu.org

Legislative Effort Aims to Introduce Transparency, Accountability, And Community Influence Over Decisions Regarding the Purchase and Use of Police Surveillance Tools; 2 Florida Cities Part of Initial Phase of Nationwide Surveillance Accountability Campaign.

Local officials and community leaders in 11 cities across the country, including Miami Beach and Pensacola, Florida, joined together today to announce a plan to bring transparency to the acquisition and use of local police surveillance technologies. The measures, which are influenced by a set of guiding principles released by a diverse coalition of 17 national organizations today, include mandating city council approval and a public hearing process that maximizes community input into surveillance technology decisions.

The ordinances being proposed in the 11 cities are intended to require that the purchase and deployment of surveillance technologies in local communities be subject to public debate, rather than occur in secret.

“We need an ordinance that governs, not just a policy,” stated Pensacola Councilwoman Cannada-Wynn, who plans to work with her colleagues on the City Council and the Chief of Police to propose a measure that allows the city’s law enforcement to address crime but also makes it clear when and how local law enforcement monitors the community. “Policies change through simple discussions; ordinances require government transparency, accountability, and public input. If Pensacola is to continue to be a leader in the region and even the state, we need an ordinance.”

“One of the most important principles in a democracy is transparency – people deserve to know what their government is doing on their behalf and why,” stated Miami Beach City Commissioner Michael Greico, who plans to introduce an ordinance at the Miami Beach Commission meeting in October. “I believe that an informed public debate as early as possible is essential when it comes to decisions about how and when surveillance technologies are being used.”

“The use of surveillance by local police has been spreading unchecked across the country without regard for the communities that they purport to serve,” said Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union. “Today communities and their local elected officials are taking action to address the disparate impact, financial burden, and threats to civil rights and liberties posed by invasive surveillance technologies.”

The first wave of cities announcing legislative efforts today are:

Hattiesburg, Mississippi
Madison, Wisconsin
Miami Beach, Florida
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Muskegon, Michigan
New York, New York
Palo Alto, California
Pensacola, Florida
Richmond, Virginia
Seattle, Washington
Washington, D.C.

The guiding principles behind this surge of legislative action, which is expected to be replicated in an increasing number of cities across the nation, are as follows:

  • Surveillance technologies should not be funded, acquired, or used without express and specific city council approval.
  • Local communities should play a significant and meaningful role in determining if and how surveillance technologies are funded, acquired, or used.
  • The process for considering the use of surveillance technologies should be transparent and well-informed.
  • The use of surveillance technologies should not be approved generally; approvals, if provided, should be for specific technologies and specific, limited uses.
  • Surveillance technologies should not be funded, acquired, or used without addressing their potential impact on civil rights and civil liberties.
  • Surveillance technologies should not be funded, acquired, or used without considering their financial impact.
  • To verify legal compliance, surveillance technology use and deployment data should be reported publicly on an annual basis.
  • City council approval should be required for all surveillance technologies and uses; there should be no “grandfathering” for technologies currently in use.

This locally-led, multi-city effort was developed in partnership with highly-diverse national partner organizations.

A list of national partners and additional resources information can be found here: www.communityCTRL.com

Stay informed

ACLU of Florida is part of a network of affiliates

Learn more about ACLU National