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Castro Community Benefit District Considers Safety Camera Program

As frontline stewards for our neighborhood, Castro Community Benefit District is always looking for new programs and services to improve the economic vitality and quality of life for our neighborhood. The Castro CBD is now considering a security camera program that would be available for evidentiary purposes and to provide an unbiased witness to crime and accidents. Consideration of a camera program came from concerned residents and a real need to address public safety issues in our district. The camera program will be community-driven, hold bad actors and law enforcement equally accountable, and empower local stakeholders to take ownership of their own public safety needs. The program will be guided by stringent privacy policies. As demonstrated in other areas of our city, this program can be an important tool to assist both victims of crimes/vehicle collisions and those unjustly charged with a crime, serving both investigators and the public defender’s office.

If approved, the camera program would work with property owners at high incident corners in the Castro & Upper Market to either install cameras on their buildings or upgrade existing cameras and connect them to the Castro CBD’s program. The exact protocols on sharing video, who gets to see video footage, how to request video, data storage etc. will be developed in collaboration with community leaders. However, we will be able to start with some of the stricter policies in place in privacy protection. An example of issues such policies cover include (but are not limited to): 

  • Video footage released for evidentiary purposes only 
  • Release of video footage only for a documented incident or a crime reported to SFPD 
  • Footage released only upon submittal and approval of request form 
  • Storage for no more than 30 days 
  • No live monitoring of video 
  • No audio or voice recording 
  • No facial recognition 
  • Ability to increase resolution only for evidentiary use
  • No ability to download video footage for unauthorized use
  • Cameras focus on the public realm only 
  • No fake cameras
  • Regularly scheduled audit to ensure compliance with the policies

Placement for camera locations will be determined based on a thorough assessment of crime hotspots and vehicle collision data, including proximity to high trafficked corridors of concern for optimum network coverage. The average resolution of the safety cameras is between 2-4 megapixels. That’s 3-4 times lower than most smartphone cameras in use today. 

A well-managed camera program will ensure that the cameras are working properly and all data is protected from unauthorized use. And unlike other existing cameras in the area, this camera program will have strict privacy policies and will afford a single point of contact to help resolve questions about crime/vehicular accidents quickly.

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