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Call to Action from The Coalition on Public Protection

The Coalition on Public Protection is a coalition of concerned community members and organizations promoting transparency, oversight, and community participation in decisions impacting public safety. The coalition includes members from Black Lives Matter Dayton, Latinos Unidos, NAACP Dayton Unit, Leaders for Equality and Action in Dayton, Miami Valley Immigration Coalition, Dayton Hispanic Chamber, ABLE, The Access Center for Independent Living.

The post below was taken from an email that is circulating in advance of the July 20, 2022 Dayton City Commission meeting.

We want to accomplish two things with this email. First, we want to share with you our email to the Dayton City Commissioners which presented our serious concerns about the City moving ahead with installing ALPRs without approving an accurate and compliant Impact Report . . . which they are required to do. As a first effort to act on a new ordinance, what does it say about genuine transparency and accountability for such a failure? Our message to the Commissioners follows. Second, because this is an issue that needs citizen response, particularly at the scheduled public hearing on July 20 at 6pm, we want to meet beforehand, this Sunday, July 17 at 4 pm, via Zoom, to hear what you have to say, to prepare for the Forum, and to make sure all of our voices are heard in a constructive way. Please join us on Sunday. The registration is here:

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZwvce6uqj4jEtMIvkHpjYSSXsWfOIsHZXEd. Our Concerns Communicated to the Commission Members On June 30, the Coalition on Public Protection emailed the Dayton City Commission with a list of concerns about the police’s proposal for license plate readers, which does not comply with the City’s Surveillance Technology Oversight Ordinance. We asked for the City to send the report back to the Police Department and direct it to draft a compliant impact report and use policy. PUBLIC COMMENT ON THE DAYTON POLICE DEPARTMENT’S AUTOMATED LICENSE PLATE READER PROPOSAL The Coalition on Public Protection, which includes representatives from Access Center for Independent Living, Black Lives Matter Dayton, Dayton Unit NAACP, Latinos Unidos, LEAD, Miami Valley Immigration Coalition, ABLE, and other community activists, has reviewed the Dayton Police Department’s Automatic License Plate Reader (ALPR) Surveillance Impact Report and Use Policy.

We do not believe the report and policy, as written, serve the purposes mandated in the Surveillance Technology Oversight Ordinance. These reports do not contain enough objective information and accurate, relevant data for the Commission to make an informed decision—as our elected officials—on the technology proposal.

The Coalition previously requested that the Commission send this report and policy back to the Dayton Police Department to make revisions that make the documents more objective and allow the Commission to make an informed decision. This would necessarily require the hearing date to be pushed back. However, in order to comply with the current public comment deadline, we submit a list of our concerns and requests below: Surveillance Impact Report 1. Crime statistics. The explanation of the use of crime statistics, particularly the reliance of comparing 2018 data at the exclusion of data from 2019 that shows ALPRs do not result in crime reductions, is insufficient.

2. Unknown vendor. There is a huge question regarding data sharing with third party vendors since DPD has not chosen a vendor for the fixed-site ALPRs yet. Further, all of the community outreach and other information-sharing DPD conducted was with and regarding Flock Safety ALPRs: their data protections, data-sharing policies, images they capture, etc. If Flock Safety is not going to be the vendor, then the Commission and the community needs to be informed about what capabilities and datasharing/storage protocols the actual vendor possesses before the Commission can make an informed decision.

3. Adverse Impact of equipment on protected groups. This is one of the most important sections, yet it reads as an opinion section as to why the police should be trusted. It does not contain data or other objective indicia for why these ALPRs will not have an adverse impact on minority communities.

4. No independent, objective reports. We acknowledge there is a blog post by a former police officer and criminal justice professor attached to the current version of the impact report. However, we do not think it qualifies as an “independent evaluation” under Section 34.10(4)(b). There are other independent reports about ALPRs that the police is likely aware of that should have been included. It ultimately benefits the police to understand the potential risks and costs, as well as the benefits, of ALPRs that are identified by national experts. We attach to this comment two reports on ALPRs for your consideration. Use Policy 1. Police access to data. We also noticed that changes to the documents now allow for every police officer to access ALPR data, rather than certain command officers, as in previous versions of the policy. This is concerning.

2. Data retention. We still question why data needs to be kept for 30 days or longer and whether that is necessary and proportionate to the uses of the ALPR. It seems a period of 24 hours for data not related to a specific criminal incident would be sufficient.

3. Data sharing with vendors. There is not enough information about Evidence.com and the data storage and sharing agreement with Axon. A copy of this agreement should be provided.

4. Removal. While the impact report mentions a process for installing ALPRs through the Neighborhood Safety Plan, neither the impact report nor the policy mention a process for removal.

5. Compliance. Section 34.11(k) of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Ordinance requires a use policy to disclose the mechanisms to ensure that the Use Policy is followed, including “internal personnel assigned to ensure compliance with the Policy, internal recordkeeping of the use of the policy,” safeguards to monitor misuse, and legally enforceable sanctions for violation of the policy. The ALPR Use Policy does not contain this information.

6. No independent auditor. During the ordinance process, the City committed to the hiring of an independent auditor to monitor DPD’s compliance with the ordinance. To date, that auditor has not been hired. Given the repeated compliance concerns with the various drafts of these reports and policies, the Commission should table the proposal until it can be reviewed by an independent auditor. This is the first proposal that is going through the ordinance process, and it is important that we get this right.

7. No safeguards against data sharing with ICE in policy. The ALPR use policy does not include the procedure outlined in the impact report that requires recipients of ALPR data to attest they will not share the information with immigration enforcement agencies. This is concerning, since it is the policy that will govern the police department’s conduct going forward.

8. Hearing. We note the procedure to hold a hearing every time a new neighborhood adopts the ALPR as part of its safety plan was omitted from the most recent policy draft. Why was that? What notice will be provided to the community if a new neighborhood adopts ALPRs?

9. Transparent use of ALPRs. Patrol vehicles should have a light or other signal that should be visible to the public when the mobile license plate readers in each patrol vehicle are turned on. If the goal of the ALPRs is to reduce crime through deterrence, it would make sense to let the public know when the ALPRs are actively being used.

10. Hit list. The Commission should limit approval of ALPR “hit list” for both mobile and fixed-site ALPRs to a list of certain infractions, such as terrorism hits, stolen vehicles, and amber alerts.

11. Cost/benefit analysis. DPD should be required to conduct a cost analysis every year to determine the monetary value of vehicles and other property retrieved through ALPRs compared to the entire cost of ALPRs (including personnel costs and any costs relating to data storage). We thank you for the opportunity to provide comments on the ALPR proposal. As our elected representatives, we hope you will take our concerns and demands very seriously. Sincerely, Coalition on Public Protection Attachments: Vasudha Talla, “Documents Reveal ICE Using Driver Location Data From Local Police for Deportations,” ACLU.org (Mar. 13, 2019), available at: https://www.aclu.org/blog/immigrantsrights/ice-and-border-patrol-abuses/documents-reveal-ice-using-driver-location-data Jonathan Hofer, Automated License Plate Readers: A Study in Failure, Independent Institute (Nov. 30, 2021), available at: https://www.independent.org/publications/article.asp?id=13893

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