Surveillance Study Committee - Sep 6th, 2018

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Attending: David Good, Julie Flaherty, Doug Funkhouser, Sayed Khodier, Stephen Revilak, Mark Streitfeld, Christina Hildebidle (partial meeting, by phone)

Approval of Minutes. Mr. Funkhouser makes a motion to accept minutes from May 21st. Seconded by Mr. Good. Motion passes.

Mr. Funkhouser makes a motion to accept minutes for June 6th. Seconded by Capt. Flaherty. Motion passes.

Mr. Funkhouser makes a motion to accept minutes from August 23rd. Seconded by Capt. Flaherty. Motion passes.


Selection of Chairperson. Mr. Streitfeld makes a motion to nominate Mr. Revilak as chair. Mr. Revilak accepts. Seconded by Capt. Flaherty. Motion passes (with Mr. Revilak abstaining).


Selection of Clerk. Mr. Streitfeld offers to draft future meeting minutes. Mr. Revilak will assist with minutes from this meeting.


Outline of Recommendations. Three committee members submitted outlines of what they'd like to see in the committee's recommendations. We went around the room, with each member asking questions and providing feedback.

Mr. Funkhouser asked Mr. Revilak why he made a distinction between security and surveillance. Mr. Revilak replied that he had two motivations. First, the committee had previously discussed the terms "security" and "surveillance", and the need to define them. Second, was the issue of scope.

Mr. Funkhouser asked if there was more to the town's surveillance equipment inventory? Mr. Khodier stated that there were no town-wide policies, and there was not a common data retention period.

The committee had a brief discussion about deterrence and displacement. Deterrence occurs when the presence of a camera (or other surveillance device) prevents someone from committing a crime. Displacement occurs the the presence of a camera causes crime to move to a different area (outside the view of the camera).

There's discussion about the scope of our recommendations. Should they include the town, the schools, the police department, all three, or some other combination? Mr. Good offers to obtain and distribute a copy of the school's policy on the use of cameras. Capt. Flaherty offers to obtain and distribute a copy of the police department's policy.

The committee agrees that any policy needs to realistically consider enforcement. There's no value in writing an unenforceable policy.

Mr. Good likes the idea of having a policy that's general, and broad enough to cover new technologies.

Mr. Good asked what public notice and public comment would look like. Mr. Revilak gave an example. Suppose the school wanted to install a new set of surveillance cameras. That would be placed on the agenda of a school committee meeting and discussed there. The agenda provides notice, and the meeting allow members of the public to provide feedback. In a different town department, this might appear on the Select Board's agenda.

There's discussion about acceptable vs. unacceptable uses of surveillance, and whether the committee should provide an opinion on what's acceptable, what's unacceptable, or both. For example, there was general agreement that infringing upon civil liberties would constitute an unacceptable use.

It could be difficult to enumerate every possible use. Perhaps we could say "no surveillance where there's a reasonable expectation of privacy".

Mr. Good talked about a video surveillance policy that he obtained from Wayne State University's web site. See https://policies.wayne.edu/administrative/11-1-video-surveillance. Mr. Good felt it was a thoughtful policy, and one we might use as a starting point.

Mr. Khodier felt that purpose and use should be treated as two different items. The purpose is to provide safety or security. Use is how you go about doing that.

Mr. Streitfeld believed it would be useful to have a broad list of how data should not be used. Mr. Funkhouser was more interested in stating affirmative reasons (i.e., acceptable uses), with the implication that items not included in the list of acceptable uses were unacceptable.

Mr. Revilak asked Mr. Streitfeld to elaborate on his vision for reporting. Mr. Streitfeld believed that a short section in the town's annual report would be sufficient. This section could include an inventory of devices, along with a summary of how they were used. For example, the number of crimes solved with video footage, the number of requests made for video footage, the number of requests fulfilled, and the number of requests denied. One goal is to show that the town's policies are being followed.


Future Meetings. Christina Hildebidle joined the meeting by phone. The committee discussed the current meeting schedule. Thursdays turns out to be a bad night for some committee members, and we talk about changing the schedule.

The group felt that we should leave the Sep. 20th meeting as-is, but we should do a Doodle poll for October meeting dates. Mr. Good offers to put the poll together. We will leave the Nov 29th meeting in place, and schedule the rest of the November meetings at a later point in time.


Other Business. Between now and the next meeting, committee members will receive copies of the Wayne State Surveillance Policy, the School District's policy, and the Police Department's policy. Committee members should be prepared to discuss these documents at our next meeting.