City of Somerville

Agenda Item
Placed on File
Oct 10, 2019 7:00 PM

Proposing a revised amendment to the Municipal Ordinances to provide public oversight over the procurement and usage of surveillance technology, including a summary of the major revisions.


Department:City CouncilSponsors:Ward Three City Councilor Ben Ewen-Campen, Ward Six City Councilor Lance L. Davis, Ward Two City Councilor Jefferson Thomas ("J.T.") Scott, City Councilor At Large Wilfred N. Mbah, Ward Four City Councilor Jesse Clingan, Ward Five City Councilor Mark Niedergang, City Councilor At Large Mary Jo Rossetti, Ward One City Councilor Matthew McLaughlin, City Councilor At Large Stephanie Hirsch, City Councilor At Large William A. White Jr., Ward Seven City Councilor Katjana Ballantyne

Official Text

A revised Ordinance to provide Public Oversight over the procurement and usage of Surveillance Technology, including a summary of the major changes.

Meeting History

Sep 12, 2019 7:00 PM Video City Council Regular Meeting

Councilor Ewen-Campen said that addressing all of surveillance technology is very important: facial recognition is not the only thing to worry about.

Sep 17, 2019 6:00 PM  Legislative Matters Committee Committee Meeting

Assistant Solicitor Shapiro and Ms. Connor appeared before the Committee. A representative from the Somerville Police Department could not attend tonight’s meeting. Councilor Ewen-Campen discussed the Surveillance Technology ordinance including: its general purpose, surveillance use policy, why he feels this is important and how it would be used. He said that the City of Cambridge passed a similar ordinance last year. This ordinance has been reviewed by the City Solicitor’s office, and the Administration has been working with Councilor Ewen-Campen closely on it. Ms. Connor stated the ordinance is very close to having the support of the Administration and they are mostly in agreement. Councilor Ewen-Campen stated he removed the language regarding body cameras from this ordinance due to possible issues around collective bargaining with the Somerville Police Department unions; police wearing body cameras has been an issue in those negotiations. Ms. Connor spelled out some concerns of the Administration such as: violation of personnel matters and review of locations where cameras are placed in the city. The Chair asked Ms. Connor if the changes could be submitted in writing before the next meeting. Mr. Falcon from ACLU of MA offered to keep working with the Administration on this matter.

Oct 3, 2019 6:00 PM Video Legislative Matters Committee Committee Meeting

Ms. Connor explained the changes the Administration wanted to make to the draft ordinance and the rationale behind them. The Committee reviewed the revised document, discussing it with members of the Administration and Mr. Falcon of the ACLU, and made the following additional amendments to the previous draft it had been working on:

· To add a new Section 1.3 C., subsection ii. (and re-number the following subsections accordingly) as follows: Any Surveillance Technology Impact Report and, if necessary, Technology-Specific Surveillance Use Policy submitted to the City Council under this Section may be redacted (a) to the extent required to comply with an order by a court of competent jurisdiction or (b) to exclude information that in the, reasonable discretion of the Chief of Police, if disclosed, would materially jeopardize an ongoing investigation or otherwise represent a significant risk to public safety and security provided, however, that any information redacted pursuant to this paragraph will be released in the next Annual Surveillance Report following the point at which the reason for such redaction no longer exists.

· Amend Section 1.5 (in line 3) by inserting the word “unapproved” before the words “Surveillance Technology.”

· Amend Section 1.5 (A) (in the first paragraph) by changing the word “using” to the word “use” and by deleting the phrase “, or in a location,”. The intent is not to allow uses inconsistent with the rest of the ordinance.

· Amend Section 1.6 (B) ii by changing the phrase “under what legal standard(s) the information was disclosed…” to “any legal standard(s) under which the information was disclosed…”

· Amend Section 1.6 (B) iv by inserting the word “non-privileged” after the word “audits,” and by inserting the phrase "other than to the extent that such inclusion would violate the privacy rights of an employee of the City;”

· Amend Section 1.6 (B) viii by inserting the words “A disclosure of any new agreements made in the past 12 months with non-City entities that may include acquiring, sharing, or otherwise using Surveillance Technology or the Surveillance Data it provides.” after the words “of the Surveillance Technology.”

· Amend Section 1.6 (B) viii by inserting the word “may” between the words “that” and “include”.

· Amend Section 1.7 by removing subjection (E) and renaming subsequent sections accordingly.

The item was unanimously approved, as amended.

Oct 10, 2019 7:00 PM Video City Council Regular Meeting

See #209044 for the approved text of this Ordinance.