Surveillance Technology Bill Gets Amended; Yet CPOA Opposes

By Shaun Rundle, Deputy Director.

SB 1186 by Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) is opposed by most law enforcement organizations and associations in California. Not only does the bill require agencies to submit Surveillance Use Policies to your governing bodies at a public meeting for approval, but mandates discontinuance of such technologies if not approved. Despite a series of meetings with Senator Hill and his staff over the bill, the latest amendments made on May 25th do not make the bill any easier to digest.

The bill is a re-introduction of SB 21 in 2017, which CPOA also strongly lobbied in opposition. That bill was defeated when it was held on the Assembly Appropriations Suspense File. SB 1186, however, has only passed the Senate Appropriations Suspense File (as SB 21 did last year), and still has more committees to go.

Senator Hill’s measure experienced its second round of amendments on May 25th. Those recent amendments remove a requirement that agencies make reports to their governing bodies, at approved intervals, concerning the use of surveillance technologies as well as make those reports available on their websites. The removal of this costly requirement was likely was edged SB 1186 out of the Suspense File, but agencies still must get initial approval before using the technologies, however.

Since the bill’s introduction, CPOA has met with the Senator and has staff both as an association, and along with our law enforcement partners. Senator Hill, however, was unwilling to budge from the mandates about presenting such technologies at a public meeting. He feels that such a mandate accomplishes the transparency that the public is looking for. We retorted that such an effort will likely not acquire the transparency and public trust he is looking for, and that more information about a person is obtained when they do a Google search.

As SB 1186 awaits more hearings in the Assembly, CPOA stands ready with our opposition. SB 1186 is also currently opposed by Cal Chiefs, CSSA, PORAC, and the California District Attorneys Association.