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SLO’s big brother policy

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 The city of SLO is proposing a policy on video surveillance. Bill Statler, director of finance and information technology, says the city needs to come up with a video surveillance policy now, before cameras become more prevalent. The policy, says Statler, is not about spying on the public but is instead about protecting the city’s property. Video cameras are already ubiquitous on private property.

 One place city officials have faced repeated problems with vandalism is the City Hall, where, according to a city memorandum, “excrement has been spread over the walls, fixtures and stalls; graffiti written and carved on partition walls; and toilets purposely clogged.�
 Statler says the surveillance policy (tentatively set to go before the council in early April) will also help protect city employees, such as dispatchers, who work late into the night.

 He says he knows video surveillance polices can attract criticism and concerns over civil rights, but he insists that’s why city officials are looking at implementing such a policy. “That’s exactly why we think we should have a policy,� he says. “So we do balance civil rights with property rights.� Surprisingly, says Statler, city staff was unable to base the proposed policy on those of other cities, simply because SLO is among the first to construct such a policy.

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