Letter From the ACLU of the National Capital Area to Chief Charles Ramsey

February 14, 2002
Charles Ramsey, Chief
Metropolitan Police Department
Washington, D.C.

Re: Briefing on the Camera Surveillance System

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Dear Chief Ramsey:

My colleagues from the NAACP Criminal Justice Task Force and we at the ACLU look forward to meeting with Executive Assistant Chief of Police Gainer on Tuesday, February 19th concerning the camera surveillance system.  The opportunity to see the system in operation will certainly enhance our understanding of it capabilities and its implications for civil liberties.

To facilitate the briefing, I am providing the following list of questions we hope that Chief Gainer will address.  Undoubtedly, there will be others as we learn more about the system.

* What are the objectives of the program?  Terrorism, other crimes?
* How will the program meet the objectives?  Provide examples.
* What consideration was given by the Police Department to the effect on citizens' use of public space and enjoyment of public activities that will be caused by instituting the camera surveillance system?
* When will the system be utilized, only when there is a terrorist alert?
* Describe the current capabilities of the system.
* How is/will the MPD system be networked to other systems?
* What expansion of the system is planned?
* What use is planned for biometrics technology?
* What video recordings will the surveillance system generate?
* Who decides to create a recording?
* What safeguards are in place to protect these recordings?  Storage, destruction?
* What access will the public/the press have to these recordings?
* What is the cost of this system to the District of Columbia?
* Will the camera surveillance system divert resources from other police programs?
* What rules/regulations are in place concerning the camera surveillance system?
* Are there provisions in the rules/regulations to sanction misuse of the system?
* Will the regulations be presented to the Council and the public for review?

Again, thank you for arranging the briefing.

      Sincerely,

 

      Johnny Barnes
      Executive Director


Follow-up Letter From the ACLU of the National Capital Area to Kathleen Patterson

February 14, 2002

Kathleen Patterson, Chair
Committee on the Judiciary
Council of the District of Columbia
Washington, D.C.

Re: Hearing on February 25, 2002


Dear Chairperson Patterson:

Renee McPhatter, the Committee Clerk, advised us that it would be appropriate for witnesses at the hearing on the MPD budget, scheduled for February 25th, to raise the subject of the Police Department's video camera surveillance system.  We welcome that opportunity and will testify.

If there is to be a meaningful discussion of the complexities of the MPD camera surveillance program, it is essential that the Police Department discuss this subject in its presentation.  Specifically, Department witnesses should address the following questions:

* What are the objectives of the program?  Terrorism, other crimes?
* How will the program meet the objectives?  Provide examples.
* What consideration was given by the Police Department to the effect on citizens' use of public space and enjoyment of public activities that will be caused by instituting the camera surveillance system?
* When will the system be utilized, only when there is a terrorist alert?
* Describe the current capabilities of the system.
* How is/will the MPD system be networked to other systems?
* What expansion of the system is planned?
* What use is planned for biometrics technology?
* What video recordings will the surveillance system generate?
* Who decides to create a recording?
* What safeguards are in place to protect these recordings?  Storage, destruction?
* What access will the public/the press have to these recordings?
* What is the cost of this system to the District of Columbia?
* Will the camera surveillance system divert resources from other police programs?
* What rules/regulations are in place concerning the camera surveillance system?
* Are there provisions in the rules/regulations to sanction misuse of the system?
* Will the regulations be presented to the Council and the public for review?

Undoubtedly, there will be other questions to be addressed as the Council and the public learn more about the camera surveillance program.

Thank you for your consideration.

      Sincerely,


      
      Johnny Barnes
      Executive Director

cc: Chief of Police Charles Ramsey

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