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Central Valley | Police State and Prisons

Wed Aug 23 2006 (Updated 08/24/06) Project criticized for lack of civil liberties protection for citizens
The Fresno City Council approved the start of a massive police video surveillance project at their Tuesday, August 22 meeting. The last hurdle to approve this project was the acceptance, by the City Council, of a policy manual to regulate the use of the cameras.

While much of the policy manual came from The Constitution Project and was protective of civil liberties, there were several key elements of the manual that community members strenuously objected to. Public concern about the policy manual focused on several issues. The issue that raised the greatest concern was the section that stated the FPD would monitor political demonstrations. The policy manual states that “Demonstrations or rallies of any kind may be actively monitored only for potential criminal activities or crowd management.” Proponents of civil liberties believe it woul have a ...'chilling effect on civic participation.” The presence of police cameras at political demonstrations would be intimidating to participants, which creates a form of “thought control.”

Another concern about the policy manual, was that it gives the FPD the ability to follow people (track them) around town with the video cameras without getting a warrant. Currently, if the police want to follow an individual around town, they need to go to a judge and show probable cause for the survillence. This judicial review is intended to provide protection to citizens from over zealous police. The language in the policy manual is “articulable reasonable suspicion”, which provides no judicial oversight.

Prior Coverage:

August 15th, 2006 | June 22nd, 2006 | June 21st, 2006 | June 15th, 2006, Part 1 | June 15th, 2006, Part 2 | May 24th, 2006

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