Top Ad unit 728 × 90

Ex-cop: it’s “bizarre” if we can’t explain to public what our snooping gear does

Cyrus Farivar
Cyrus Farivar
For years, Ars has been examining how surveillance technology is used in practice in Oakland, California.
In March 2015, Ars published a feature on license plate readers and what a large LPR dataset, as obtained from the Oakland Police Department, can reveal.
In January 2016, the city codified a Privacy Advisory Commission to "Provide advice and technical assistance to the City of Oakland on best practices to protect citizen privacy rights in connection with the City’s purchase and use of surveillance equipment and other technology that collects or stores citizen data."
It is believed to be a rare instance of outside citizen-driven oversight on surveillance in a major American city. This past week, we were able to sit down with Timothy Birch, a former police officer, and current civilian employee, who serves as the commission's liaison to the Oakland Police Department.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Can you tell me your name and who you are and what you do?
My name is Timothy Birch. I am the research and planning manager for the Oakland Police Department.
What does that mean?
My job encompasses a number of things. Probably the two biggest things are in terms of policy and procedure. I oversee all of our policy procedure development. So for example, on the wall—and I know it won’t make it on the recording—are all the policies that I’m working on at the moment. It’s like 160 of them. That’s one big part of my life.
Then the other thing is the legislative process. So I oversee agenda reports that find their way to city council or the public safety committee, or other committees. Then I do a lot of other special projects. For example, we’re doing a feasibility study for a new administration building because this one was finished in 1963.
Timothy Birch, of the OPD.
Enlarge / Timothy Birch, of the OPD.
Cyrus Farivar
From the font and the downstairs architecture, it looks like it was from the 1960s.
You got it, man. I think they do Mad Men episodes here.
How long have you been with OPD?
Just over two years. Since September 2014.
What did you do before that?
I’ve almost always been in local government. I was a police officer in Daly City for eight years, across the Bay, back in the ‘90s. I came back for four years as a civilian. I managed the Daly City public libraries for a few years. I was the administrator of the San Jose City Attorney’s office for a couple years, and then I came here.
When you say you’re in charge of research and planning—research of what? Bureaucratic procedures? Technologies? Policies?
Technologies is probably lower on that list. We actually have people who are far better about understanding its uses and its limitations and so forth. The only way that I touch on technology is that if there’s a policy that needs to be written.
Hence you’re on the Privacy Commission.
So much of what we’re going to be doing with the Privacy Commission is policy. At the end of the day, like with a stingray, Hailstorm, cell-site simulator stuff, it’s going to be developing a policy that works for the Privacy Commission, and the City of Oakland as a community and the Oakland Police Department as an organization. That’s how I got involved.
What happened early on with the stingray, as an example, is that it became pretty abundant that one of the big outcomes was going to be a policy. And just so you’re familiar, there was legislation that was passed.
Right. Really it’s about making sure we comply with that law and taking that opportunity to say, “This is what we have, and this is what we’re going to do with it.” That is the kind of transparency and accountability we’re looking for.
Do you think that as a former officer, that there are things that people like me who’ve never put on the uniform don’t understand about the way in which law enforcement at OPD and other agencies use technology to work for them as part of their job?
Probably. Let me give a parallel example. I made the mistake of recently getting back on Facebook. I was really so upset about the presidential election that I just quit. I was on there the other day and I saw that our new President Trump has taken all of the good stuff off of the White House website, like LGBT issues and the environment and all of that and replaced with a page about how he supports law enforcement. And then there’s the political figure Dave Clarke, who is a sheriff or a former sheriff somewhere in this country.
Ex-cop: it’s “bizarre” if we can’t explain to public what our snooping gear does Reviewed by Chidinma C Amadi on 7:25 PM Rating: 5

No comments:

Kogonuso © All Rights Reserved!

Contact Form

Name

Email *

Message *

Powered by Blogger.