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Reportback of Santa Cruz Police Spying Policy Process
Weak severely-limited half-baked policy on police spying on peaceful groups likely to be proposed.
Well, in short: It doesn't look good.
According to Mike Rotkin a new police policy on police surveillance will be published within a week or two. However, we are not terribly confident that it will represents a strong policy with all the needed checks and protections.
As a reminder, here were our bare minimums for a policy:
* Explicit protections for and definitions of First Amendment activities
* Limits on police powers regarding first amendment activities
* Steps the police have to take before considering monitoring a group
* Clear accountability and limited authorization
* Rules of conduct for undercover officers, infiltrators, and informants
* A strong auditing requirement
After the City Council's abrupt turnabout following the police auditor's pan of the internal police investigation.of police spying, the Council assuring us that they would work hand-in-hand with the ACLU to create a policy that protected citizen's first and fourth amendment rights, put limits on police powers and conduct, and provided adequate checks and audits.
But a month into the process, city managers were still stonewalling the process. After pressure by citizens, the process finally got going in fits and starts. Rather than use the draft policy provided by the ACLU of Northern California based on the San Francisco police first amendment policy, city managers based their first draft on the grossly inadequate policy hastily thrown together after the spying scandal.
There has been little back and forth with ACLU lawyers -- only one meeting and one opportunity for their review. Many of the ACLU changes were rejected without any attempt at explanation.
The most important failing of the proposed new policy is that, despite our repeated concerns, the policy only deals with undercover officers, not the greater issue of police monitoring of peaceful groups.
The proposed new policy suffers from many major inadequacies:
1. The policy only covers undercover activities
2. It contains no definition of 1st amendment activities
3. It contains no limits on when to monitor first amendment activities
4. The approval process is quite lax even allowing a deputy chief to make the decision
5. There are no limits on sharing information with outside agencies
6. The audit is weak -- facts of a violation of the policy are not made public in an audit
The policy makers have taken a few of the suggestions made by the ACLU, but have largely ignored the most important aspects of the ACLU advice.
Dick Wilson's letter says that the final policy will be published (but not yet approved) on July 5th. It seems that they will push a weak severely-limited half-baked policy through as soon as possible, claiming that they crafted a good policy hand-in-hand with the ACLU.
In the next few weeks, we'll be trying to meet with councilmembers, the local ACLU, the ACLU of Northern California (who's done the bulk of the work on this), and in general, raising a fuss that they are trying to bury the issue with a half-assed policy that still does not protect the rights of citizens.
We encourage you to convince City Council members that we will never accept police spying on our political and community groups and activities.
Links to photos related to the Santa Cruz Police Spying Scandal: http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2006/01/25/17981451.php
809 Center Street, Room 10, Santa Cruz, CA 95060 • (831) 420-5010 • Fax: (831) 420-5011 • http://www.ci.santa-cruz.ca.us
June 21, 2006
Mr. Mark Schlosberg
Police Practices Policy Director
American Civil Liberties Union Foundation
of Northern California
RE: Police Department Policy on Undercover Operations
Dear Mr. Schlosberg:
Thank you for your June 5, 2006 transmittal suggesting revisions to the Santa Cruz Police Department’s (SCPD) most recent draft of SCPD General Order 610 pertaining to undercover investigations of First Amendment activity. A number of your suggested revisions have been incorporated into the proposed final draft of the General Order.
Other proposed revisions, however, have not been included. In particular, your suggestion that the policy under discussion apply to all criminal investigations was a total surprise. The sole topic of our dialogue, as evidenced by your March 28, 2006 letter to the City Council as well as our fairly extensive May 16, 2006 discussion involving you, the City Attorney, the Police Chief, and myself, has been to develop a new SCPD General Order to regulate undercover operations undertaken by the SCPD when those operations entail the investigation of activity by individuals, groups, or organizations that is protected by the First Amendment. We need to bring this effort to conclusion.
Enclosed please find a clean copy of the proposed final draft General Order and, in addition, a “redline” version which highlights the revisions that have been incorporated into the proposed final draft. In addition, we have included a provision requiring that all requests to undertake undercover operations covered by the policy be made in writing. While this may have been implicit in the prior draft, it is now explicit.
In addition, you will note that the final section of the General Order pertaining to Auditor reports, in addition to incorporating a number of your suggested revisions, has been further revised to require the Auditor to report all possible policy violations to the City Manager rather than the City Council Public Safety Committee. The reason for this change is that an alleged General Order violation requires the SCPD to undertake an Internal Affairs investigation of the officer who allegedly violated departmental policy. At this juncture, the matter becomes a personnel issue and the investigation must be conducted on a confidential basis so as to protect the subject officer’s privacy rights. Because the City Manager has exclusive authority under the City Charter to provide direction to the Police Chief, this section of the General Order has been revised to acknowledge this channel of communication as well as the previously referenced police officer privacy rights.
Inasmuch as SCPD General Orders are enacted administratively by the Police Chief, I have directed him to make this General Order effective as of July 5, 2006. Please advise, however, if you have further comments. The final version will be very close to the current product, but we are still open to minor modifications.
Thank you very much for your willingness to assist in the development of our new General Order. Your participation has been a valuable part of the process.
Richard C. Wilson
cc: Mayor and City Councilmembers
Howard Skerry, Police Chief
This will become policy on July 5th.
It doesn't actually need City Council approval as the SCPD work for Dick Wilson, not the Council. However, Dick Wilson DOES work for the council and they will most likely want to have something to say about it.
Note that in spite of all of our efforts and the efforts of the ACLU, the policy only deals with undercover operations, not the general problem of police monitoring of peaceful groups.
After this policy becomes effective, even if you are engaged in constitutionally protected first amendment activities, police will still be able to videotape you inside or outside of your home, audio record you, listen to your phonecalls, look at the mail you are receiving, make notes about your organization, tail you, monitor your website, subscribe to your email lists, and examine your memberhip lists, all with impunity.
The above photo is named dickwilson.jpg but its not the SC City Manager. Here's a picture of SC City Manager Dick Wilson with Mike Rotkin accepting an award.