Use of Surveillance Technology for Public Safety Discussed at City Council Meeting

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By Zohd Khan 

DAVIS — During the City Council meeting on Tuesday Nov. 10, Parks and Community Services Director Dale Sumersille provided a public hearing regarding the potential use of new surveillance technology, specifically audio recordings, on Davis City Transit (DCT) vehicles, which would be combined with previously approved DCT public safety cameras. 

This same topic was also brought to the City Council last year, and at that time, the council only approved the “public safety camera” portion of the proposal. 

At the time, a survey was conducted by city staff who did not work as DCT drivers or dispatchers, and the clients were asked about the use of audio recording devices on the vehicles for public safety purposes. 

The survey was completed, and the results showed an overwhelming amount of support by the clients to use the video and audio devices, as they were comfortable with the recording devices. The overall consensus was that the public safety cameras had been balanced “with the need to investigate and present crimes, to protect crime victims in society from those who commit crimes.” 

As Sumersille stated, the safety cameras and audio recording devices are very important to “get a clearer picture of what actually occurs in the event where there is an incident with a passenger, driver, or vehicle accident.”  

Furthermore, this surveillance technology was confirmed as “fairly standard” by paratransit coordinator James Haven, implying that this is another reason as to why surveillance technology is paramount for ensuring the safety of those using these transportation services. 

Haven also explained how the plan is for there to be a “large sign on the front of the bus saying that there are video cameras with audio and video capabilities.” This is meant to help inform customers that this equipment is a part of the experience of riding on these transit services, so that no one will be surprised or caught off guard by the surveillance technology. 

Mayor Gloria Partida emphasized the importance of this issue, as she explained “the people that use Davis Community Transit are some of the most vulnerable in our community.”


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4 thoughts on “Use of Surveillance Technology for Public Safety Discussed at City Council Meeting”

  1. Eric Gelber

    I’m surprised that DCT users supported the idea of audio surveillance (eavesdropping) on private conversations and would be interested to know how the issue was presented in the survey. Contrary to visual surveillance, with private conversations in public places, there is a clear expectation of privacy.

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