Police Complaints

City withholding locations of surveillance cameras

The Albuquerque Police are bragging about a new tool that lets them spy on law-abiding citizens through a city-wide network of more than 100 video cameras. But they refuse to tell us where all these cameras are located.

From the Albuquerque Journal story by Jeff Proctor, APD video crime center debuts:

For nearly two years, the Albuquerque Police Department has quietly been at work on a controversial law enforcement strategy in which live camera feeds are piped from more than 100 cameras around the city into a video command center at police headquarters to provide officers in the field with real-time information…. Each of the cameras, which have been in place to aid city traffic engineers for years, records on a 24-hour loop.

APD’s shiny new panopticon incorporates facial recognition software and real-time integration with numerous public and private databases. Concerns for privacy and civil rights are obvious to everyone except, of course, the police.

But there’s one kind of privacy, the police are always willing to protect: their own. We’ve been trying to learn the locations of all the spy cameras that the police can tap into, but so far, they’ve refused to disclose this information in full.

We submitted the following request for this data more than four months ago:

Date: Thu, Oct 18, 2012 at 3:24 PM
Subject: IPRA: city-controlled security cameras
To: “Amy Bailey, ABQ City Clerk” <abailey@cabq.gov>

Pursuant to IPRA, we wish to inspect all public records that identify
outdoor security cameras controlled by any city government department
within the area bounded inclusively by Lomas Blvd to Iron Avenue, and
I-25 to Rio Grande Boulevard. We expect that, at minimum, the records
will identify the street address or geo coordinates of the camera and
the city department that controls it, but we also wish to inspect any
other non-exempt information contained in the public records that
identify these two minimal data.

I hope that is sufficiently specific. If your research turns up data
that appear to be very broad, I would be happy to look at some sample
records to determine more exactly the portions of the data we wish to
have furnished.

If it is easier for you to furnish records on all security cameras in
the city regardless of their location (but still including the two
minimal data specified above) that is certainly acceptable. However,
all we seek now is info on cameras within the area specified above.

Thank you.

Within a week or so, the city sent us a list of just four cameras. We published them on our Camera Map. We expected them to contact us again with a more complete list.

So far, nothing.

We sent the following reminder last month:

Date: Thu, Jan 24, 2013 at 11:14 AM
Subject: Fwd: Recent IPRA
To: “Amy Bailey, ABQ City Clerk” <abailey@cabq.gov>

Amy,

I’ve compiled a list of our recent IPRA requests, identifying each by
the date and email subject line. Here they are along with some notes
for you.

We have received partial records for the following requests:

10/18/12 IPRA: city-controlled security cameras

We received a list of four cameras. Surely there are more. Or clarify
that there are no others.

Our request continues to be ignored. And not just this request. We currently have 19 pending IPRA requests that the city has denied, illegally redacted, or outright ignored. New Mexico State Law provides for punitive damages when government agencies fail to permit inspection of public records. So far, the per-day late fees for all our overdue IPRA requests total as much as $130,000.

We already have one lawsuit pending against the city for illegally redacting public records in the personnel file of one of their officers. We continue to make good faith efforts to remind them of their obligations under IPRA and they continue to ignore us.