10 Reasons to Oppose Police Surveillance Cameras in Ocean Beach

by on December 7, 2015 · 13 comments

in Civil Rights, Culture, Environment, History, Life Events, Media, Ocean Beach, Politics, San Diego

OB surveill cam jeff St imageHere are 10 reasons to oppose the ten police surveillance cameras being installed along OB’s waterfront.

1. The cameras are unconstitutional – they are violations of both the First and Fourth Amendments. They violate our right of assembly and right of association. They are an unreasonable search and seizure of our persons and of our images

2.  The cameras violate our right to privacy. Citizens do have the right to certain privacies – even on the beach or in parks; lawful citizens have the right not to be subject to surveillance  by government or police. In this age of government surveillance via emails and cellphones (especially as have been uncovered by Edward Snowden), concern for citizens’ rights to privacy are heightened.

3.  Video Surveillance has chilling effect on public life. Cameras bring subtle but profound changes to the character of our public spaces, as citizens behave more self-conscious and less free-wheeling.

4.   The police have not submitted any statistics on crimes at the beach or other empirical data  to justify the cameras.

5.   Without debate, the cameras were thrust upon the Ocean Beach community at large without a proper vetting, notice, or even discussion by all within the community.

6.   The $25,000 to be spent on the cameras can be better spent – on funding additional police officers, other equipment, or on assistance to the homeless, or to OB’s aging infrastructure, the Library, the Lifeguard station, public restrooms, etc.  As is, it’s a waste of our money.

7.   The justifications offered for the cameras fall flat.

– There is currently a 36-year low in rates of violent crime and crime against property in San Diego; by zip code, OB has only the 13th highest crime rate in the City of San Diego.

– No child has even been abducted off the beach at OB; there are temporary “lost kids” every summer.

–  If the police know of “hot spots” – have police check on the sites, have officers out of patrol cars;

– The cameras will not help the lifeguards; they don’t have staff to monitor videos (in fact, the lifeguards are understaffed); lifeguards need assistance in “real time”, and there have not been that many persons completely lost off the beach.

–  The cameras at Mission Beach and PB are cited, but there are no statistics from them, and there’s doubt whether those cameras are even working.

– There’s a big difference between private cameras – like the one atop on the OB Hotel – and public cameras such the ones being installed; there is no opposition to businesses having security cameras; we’re talking about public cameras – with private viewings;

– There is also a big difference between the surveillance cameras at the beach with the body-cams worn by police officers.

8.   Surveillance cameras and viewings are subject to both public and private abuse.

9.   The San Diego Police Department cannot be trusted with surveillance videos; despite the excellent work by individual officers, this is the same department that refuses to release the private surveillance video taken of the fatal police shooting of an unarmed man in the Midway District area.

10.   It’s one more step towards Big Brother. We have a society that is moving in the direction of being one where everybody is constantly under surveillance.

In the end, there is very little public benefit – while the surveillance cameras are a huge intrusion into our public space.

A free people need to be secure in the knowledge that they are not being spied upon by their government.

Do you have any other reasons? Let us know.

There is the first of a series of public community forums on the cameras on Wednesday, Dec. 9th, at the OB Rec Center, 4726 Santa Monica Ave., from 6:30 to 8:30 pm.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Bearded OBcean December 7, 2015 at 2:30 pm

Geez, that first one is a stretch.


Frank Gormlie December 7, 2015 at 2:51 pm

But the other 9 are good?


Colin December 7, 2015 at 4:41 pm

Not really. First and Fourth Amendment discussions are absolutely relevant and active regarding public video surveillance. For example, check out the Constitution Project’s “Guidelines for Public Video Surveillance”.


Tom G December 7, 2015 at 5:23 pm

For those opposed to the cameras, and I’m one who is, there is a meeting at OB Rec Center Wednesday night December 9.


craig waterhouse December 7, 2015 at 11:01 pm

As much as I oppose such cameras….there is zero expectation of privacy in a public area….that includes our right to film the police in return.


craig duncan December 9, 2015 at 10:27 am

Sounds like a propaganda meme. “I say one has zero expectation of privacy, therefore, that’s the fact.” Whereas, as someone else wrote in an OBrag comment elsewhere (paraphrased), if this is true then you have zero expectation that someone should not (properly) be able to follow you around in public recording everything you do. This little thought experiment demonstrates that there is, in fact, some degree of subjectivity regarding what “right” we have to expect various things. We are social beings living in a social context and, despite the insistence of “power” that LAW (subjective as it always is in practice) fundamentally (and properly) defines what we have a right to expect — thus ending the argument — this is far too black and white (and simpleminded) for most (thinking) people to take seriously as an argument. And as far as your “right” to film the police (now illegal in Illinois… huh… wonder how _that_ could be) tell me what this “right” is worth when police can demand you surrender you camera/phone, demand you lie prone on the pavement, demand virtually any damn thing they want with almost complete impunity? Maybe this particular issue _isn’t_ quite so black and white?


RB December 8, 2015 at 5:42 am

Cameras are everywhere. Hard to put the genie back in the bottle.
So cameras on police are good but cameras operated by police are bad?


Larry N Maggard December 8, 2015 at 9:50 am

Atlanta 7,238,624 1,631 ( 1 per 4,438 residents) 13,946
San Diego 1,120,337 1,884 (1 per 594 residents) 4,670

Since we have a low crime rate SDPD should eliminate 10+ police officers for each surveillance camera installed. Why waste our tax dollars on cops if we have cameras?


tj December 8, 2015 at 9:53 pm

+1 Frank

who would have ever thought “the hippies” would have become such sellouts?

aging, prosperity & fear.

paranoia, paranoid.


jettyboy December 9, 2015 at 12:31 pm

I will not be silent.

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

–Martin Niemöller

Tiocfaidh Ar La!


OB Alex December 9, 2015 at 5:48 pm

Hmmm I high doubt the cameras will work.. All the trolls are just going to move and are going to be hanging out towards the street neighborhoods of OB and parks. I don’t believe they’re going to be able to place cameras everywhere through OB ..


obracer December 9, 2015 at 8:18 pm

Absurd lame article.


Clarke December 9, 2015 at 10:44 pm

If it means I can bring my little girls and wife to the pier wall like I would have been able to back in The day, I am willing to sacrifice a little nose picking privacy.


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