HARTFORD — On December 11, the Hartford City Council voted 7-2 to use state funding to expand video surveillance and drone use by the Hartford Police Department. In a letter to members of the city council, Mayor Luke Bronin stated that the state grant would lead to new surveillance cameras in the city’s “major commercial corridors” and the adoption of software that claims to predict crime, also known as “predictive policing” technology. The mayor’s letter also states that the grant will be used to purchase two new police drones.
The following is a reaction from David McGuire, executive director of the ACLU of Connecticut:
“Expanding police spying in Hartford with drones, predictive policing, and powerful surveillance cameras could violate people’s privacy, chill protesters’ rights, and disproportionately hurt people of color, immigrants, and low-income people.
The impulse to blanket Hartford’s public spaces and main streets with police surveillance and to control protesters and neighborhoods by buzzing over with police drones is a bad idea. It’s a fundamental betrayal of America’s values of freedom and equality and of Hartford’s promise to protect immigrants, and it won’t make Connecticut’s capital city safer or more just.
Seven members of the Hartford City Council decided to use grant funding for these mass surveillance tools without first ensuring that there were rules in place to protect people’s rights. Now, the least the council can do is protect Hartford residents, workers, and visitors by creating strict city ordinances to keep these police spying tools in check.”