San Francisco Mayor Wants PD To Be Able To Commandeer Cameras Owned By Residents Because Reasons

from the yeah-that's-what-we-need:-more-authoritarianism dept

Ring has been bedding down as many law enforcement partners as possible, turning cops into brand evangelists with the implicit (and sometimes, explicit) promise they’ll have access to private citizens’ recordings. Ring likes this because it increases its market share. Cops like it because it gives them more camera coverage in the areas they patrol, at least theoretically.

Ring may allow cops to obtain footage without warrants or notification of affected users, but no city has expressly converted private citizens’ cameras into public utilities accessible with warrants or permission. Until now.

Having dumped its “progressive” District Attorney, Chesa Boudin, the city of San Francisco has decided it’s going to be far more Dirty Harry in the future. The alleged justification is (perhaps temporary and anomalous) increases in crime. It’s time to run roughshod over constitutional rights again, as Robyn Pennacchia reports for Wonkette. (h/t Michael Vario)

When people buy those Ring doorbell cameras, they do so to protect their own safety, so that they do not accidentally welcome an axe murderer into their home. It seems safe to say that they do not buy them so that the police can hijack them for the purposes of surveilling their community. But that is a thing that may be happening in San Francisco soon, now that progressive prosecutor Chesa Boudin has been replaced, by the mayor who wanted him recalled, with District Attorney Brooke Jenkins, a tough on crime prosecutor who quit her job in the DA’s office in order to lead the effort to recall Boudin as a “liberal.”

Progressive law enforcement is no longer on top. As Mayor London Breed states in her own Medium post, the future of the city will apparently include the remote seizure of private property by city law enforcement.

We also need to make sure our police officers have the proper tools to protect public safety responsibly. The police right now are barred from accessing or monitoring live video unless there are “exigent circumstances”, which are defined as events that involve an imminent danger of serious physical injury or death. If this high standard is not met, the Police can’t use live video feed, leaving our neighborhoods and retailers vulnerable.

That’s the supposed “problem” the mayor believes needs to be addressed. Here are the means, which will apparently be justified by the ends.

These are the reasons why I authored this legislation. It will authorize police to use non-City cameras and camera networks to temporarily live monitor activity during significant events with public safety concerns, investigations relating to active misdemeanor and felony violations, and investigations into officer misconduct. 

So, basically for any reason. If the legislation manages to become law, there’s almost no chance it will survive a constitutional challenge. Limiting it to “significant events with public safety concerns” might have a chance (but still not much of one) but expanding it to include incidents that relate to every criminal law on the books means this law will be dead on arrival if its passes intact. Pretending cops will use the commandeered network of private cameras to “investigate officer misconduct” is a nice thing to say but seems like the least likely use of this city-approved intrusion.

If the mayor and the PD want more camera coverage, they can buy some cameras, hang them up, and turn them on. If San Francisco wants to become China-town, it can do it the old-fashioned way. What it definitely shouldn’t do is what the mayor is planning on doing: eminent domain but for privately owned cameras.

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Comments on “San Francisco Mayor Wants PD To Be Able To Commandeer Cameras Owned By Residents Because Reasons”

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Anonymous Coward says:

If the legislation manages to become law, there’s almost no chance it will survive a constitutional challenge.

  • Excuse me, sir. I’m with the San Francisco Police Department. This is official police business. I would like to commandeer this camera.
  • No.
  • What do you mean, “no”?
  • I happen to know for a fact that you don’t have the right to commandeer my camera.
  • Please, can I commandeer this camera?
  • No.
  • You’re just, you’re just not gonna bend on this commandeering thing, are you?
  • No.
This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Naughty Autie says:

Re: Re: Re:

And are they likely to use those highly paid lawyers when it’s already been made clear in this and previous Techdirt articles that Ring will just bend over in every direction to give the police what they want? Why do you think I have zero Ring products in my flat?

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

…and investigations into officer misconduct.

How convenient it will be for not only the body cam footage to go missing, but holy fuckballs! The Ring camera somehow had the same ‘glitch’ at the same time!


Cameras not under their administrative control are inconvenient to controlling the narrative.

btr1701 (profile) says:


No, in that town the public is not respected at all unless the person is either a vagrant, an illegal alien, or a convicted felon. If you meet one of those three qualifications– or better yet, more than one at the same time– the city will bend over backward for you and facilitate both your chemically-dependent lifestyle and your criminal activity.

The rest of the public? Not so much. If you don’t belong to one of the three treasured demographics above, you’re nothing but a pocket for them to pick every time they think they need more tax money, but otherwise, they’d prefer you just shut up and keep your opinions to yourself.

nasch (profile) says:


I suspect most customers of “Ring” video surveillance in San Francisco would not be particularly distressed to learn that it could also be used to track and catch burglars, vandals, and thieves in their neighborhood.

Most people in the US are not familiar with and do not care much about most of their constitutional rights. This doesn’t make it OK to violate them.

btr1701 (profile) says:

"Temporary and anomalous"

The alleged justification is (perhaps temporary and anomalous) increases in crime.

Hahahahahahahaha!!! Whoo, that was a good one. “Temporary and anomalous”… Thanks for that. I haven’t had a laugh that good in a while.

San Francisco has become fucking Thunderdome.

Crime there is so anomalous that my cousin’s car has been broken into three times just this year, which has barely reached the halfway point. How many people in other parts of the country experience even one car break-in in their lives, let alone three in six months, one of which occurred when the car was in her garage (which was also broken into)?

And when she called the police about it, they didn’t even come. They just took her name and info over the phone and said they’d file a report but that no one would be prosecuted even if they happened to be caught by accident, because Chesa Boudin had a blanket declination on all property crime. Much like his Soros-funded counterpart in Los Angeles, D.A. George Gascon, he says “That’s what insurance is for, not the criminal justice system.”

I bet if my cousin had gone to Chesa’s house and trashed his car, he’d suddenly find an exception to his blanket property crime declination. People like Boudin and Gascon always have exceptions for themselves.

And for the life me, I have no idea what the San Francisco Field Office of the DEA is doing with its days. The city is running open-air drug markets and shooting galleries right out in the open where Schedule I controlled substances are being possessed, provided, sold, and used in broad daylight. Why it is that a dozen or so DEA special agents don’t just show up and arrest everyone from the users to the city employees that are facilitating multiple federal felonies is god’s own private mystery.

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