Bay to Breakers will have video surveillance, license plate scans, and secret "FBI assets"

Chief Suhr addresses supervisors.
Steven T. Jones

Police video surveillance was in the spotlight during yesterday's City Hall hearing on security measures at large events, as supervisors voiced a desire to strike the right balance between security and civil liberties. And while they got some reassurance and small signs of restraint from the SFPD, they also learned about secretive new security measures that go beyond what the public was aware of.

San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr clarified misleading media reports (a Chronicle story then picked up by Associated Press) that he's seeking real time video surveillance along Market Street. Right now, Suhr said he just wants an inventory of existing video cameras along Market and downtown that he can request footage from after a crime is committed and that he would make his case to the board if he ever wanted to go beyond that.

“Right now, we only look at footage in retrospect,” Suhr told the Neighborhood Services and Safety Committee hearing, adding that he has no objections to seeking a court warrant to obtain that footage because “we do want it to be admissible.”

Yet Suhr and Deputy Chief James Loftus also revealed that SFPD will be deploying an undisclosed number of temporary real-time video surveillance cameras atop long poles at the Bay to Breakers footrace on May 19, as it did last fall during the World Series and the big parade down Market Street celebrating the Giants victory.

“We always want more video,” Suhr told the Guardian, although he said that he also understands the civil liberties sensitivities of San Franciscans, which is why he isn't now seeking a permanent increase in SFPD's real time video surveillance capabilities. “I'm from San Francisco, I get it.”

Other security tools that the SFPD will be employing at Bay to Breakers and other large events are technology that uses video cameras on police cars to capture license plate numbers and run them through a DMV database, what Loftus vaguely described as “specialized resources from surrounding jurisdictions” (watch out for the drones, y'all), and unspecified “FBI assets [that] will be present and assisting in event security.”

When Sup. Eric Mar, who called the hearing, asked about those last two items, Loftus said he wouldn't discuss them publicly, but “I could talk to you about it offline if you'd like.”

Sup. David Campos said that he doesn't want San Francisco to be reactionary after incidents like the Boston Marathon bombing and that we should be a model city for balancing security with civil liberties: “I think that's a very difficult balance to strike, but it anyone can strike that balance, I think San Francisco can.” He also expressed concerns about plans to ban backpacks at Bay to Breakers: “I don't know if that's going to address the problem.”

Loftus said the ban only applied to large backpacks (larger than 8.5x11x14 inches) and that runners and spectators will still be allowed to use small backpacks to hold water and changes of clothing. Yet for those concerned about the creeping police state, including several people who spoke during the public comment period, there was little consolation offered in the presentations, and the supervisors said this would be an important ongoing discussion.

“This is a discussion that goes beyond San Francisco,” Campos said. “We as a country need to have this discussion.”


If you don't like the security, blame the terrorists and not those who try and protect us against them.

Posted by Guest on May. 03, 2013 @ 12:52 pm

I see somebody has clearly forgotten the famous remark about how those who would freely sacrifice liberty for security deserves NEITHER liberty nor security.

For me, Supervisor Campos earns my applause for being reason to a dialogue that has been too often been derailed by fearmongers.

Posted by Peter on May. 03, 2013 @ 2:27 pm

Absolutely. But consider the source. That right-wing "person" up above based on all the other fear-mongering excrement they've "saved" on this site over the years would have been the most content and satisfied in another part of the world during the 1930-40s.

Posted by Guest on May. 03, 2013 @ 2:47 pm

A little more paranoia and curtailment of freedom might have saved them.

Posted by Guest on May. 03, 2013 @ 9:09 pm

Yeah, right.

A competent president and a VP who wasn't a traitorous PNAC operative would have saved them without anybody wiping their ass on the U.S. Constitution.

Was this a sly rhetorical point from the Left that I took the bait on?

Man the trolls are weak tonite.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 03, 2013 @ 9:33 pm

CCTV's help catch, and therefore deter, terrorists. And a backpack ban would have saved lives. If even City Hall searches bags, why should politicians be the only ones protected by such vigilance?

Posted by Guest on May. 03, 2013 @ 10:49 pm


Do you ever get out? Or is it some medication you're on that makes you so paranoid and afraid of your own shadow? And for christ's sake, wipe that foam off your mouth.

Posted by Guest on May. 04, 2013 @ 3:29 am

I don't expect that rabid right-wing "Guest" to read the following articles, but for others who might be interested:

New questions on Boston bombing suspects’ ties to US intelligence


Questions mount about Boston bombers’ links to US intelligence agencies

Posted by Guest on May. 04, 2013 @ 3:41 am

synthesized this very suspicion.

"The US government has a long tradition of cultivating ties with such reactionary forces. It played a central role in fomenting radical Islamism in Afghanistan before and during the Soviet-Afghan war of the 1980s, in an effort to undermine Soviet influence in the region. The emergence of Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda, which evolved out of the organization that oversaw logistical support to the Islamist anti-Soviet fighters, was the direct product of this war.

The US intelligence community is so familiar with the consequences of losing control of its former assets that it has coined a term for it: blowback. However, the media have avoided raising any possibility that the Boston bombings might be an example of blowback, or an operation carried out with the tacit support or assistance of forces within the state."

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 04, 2013 @ 5:02 am

itself because 9/11 -- according to the official story -- would *not* have been prevented by CCTV since the perpetrators ostensibly all meant to die.

This story is about a range of measures from pervasive cameras, to drones, FBI "assets", to bans of certain kinds of bags. You, on the other hand, originally lauded "curtailment of freedom" as a means to prevent terrorism; which is par for the course, you being a bootlicker and all.

As for my use of an incorrect though not at all unusual mispelling of the word tonight, that's true; my bad and all... but does it have to be pointed out that when you attempted to refute my point, you failed miserably?

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 04, 2013 @ 4:54 am

My family members all the time say that I am wasting my time here at web, however I know I am getting familiarity every day by
reading thes good posts.

Posted by canvas backpack on Jun. 18, 2013 @ 2:45 pm

Related (topic: police state tactics):

California community put on police lockdown

I've learned that the right-wing/conservatives are so easily manipulated/scared and made to be afraid of their own shadow. Just pathetic.

Posted by Guest on May. 03, 2013 @ 2:40 pm

I just want to run around with a back pack full of beer and not get arrested.

Posted by Guest on May. 03, 2013 @ 6:34 pm

The ban only applies to "large backpacks," with a backpack the size of a sheet of paper defined as "large." Who the hell has a backpack smaller than a sheet of paper anyway? But if you do get one of those backpacks -fannypacks, really -that's still big enough to carry a bomb, but not big enough to carry a sixpack. The police have been looking for a convenient excuse to make the race more sanitized and crack down on folks drinking and having fun, and now they have it. Mission accomplished.

Posted by Greg on May. 04, 2013 @ 9:02 am

changed to disallow freely moving about in the public realm while carrying large packages. Are large backpacks allowed if you keep them in the truck of your limosine -- or squad car?

You did hit the nail on the head. Cops and reactionary control freaks always want to crack down harder on fun, don't they?

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 04, 2013 @ 9:18 am

Another symptom.

Posted by Guest on May. 03, 2013 @ 9:16 pm

"Tell that to the 9/11 victims

A little more paranoia and curtailment of freedom might have saved them."

just spitballing here, so forgive the typo or two, and the crude grammar, formatting ;

The attacks of September 11th were a synthetic terror plot involving a variety of small factions within the US Government.

Was the Gulf of Tonkin a staged event? Was this not the "casus belli" for the engagement of US ground forces (the land war as it were) in Southwest Asia?

And the KIA, wounded totals in Vietnam are around what 211,000+ thousand US citizens that were serving as a military personnel? I suppose you believe that the US Government would be incapable of killing its own citizens?



Posted by Guestforviolence on May. 07, 2013 @ 1:13 pm

Isn't everything?

Anyone with anything more serious here/

Posted by Guest on May. 07, 2013 @ 1:30 pm

"Sup. David Campos said we should be a model city for balancing security with civil liberties...Yet for those concerned about the creeping police state..."

The irony here is that Campos, who advocates Socialist beliefs, is pushing us toward a police state. Everytime he(and other Democrats and progressives) advocates for more Government-provided benefits, we are inched that much closer to totalitarianism. Nothing is free, and the price for Government-provided entitlements is loss of personal freedom and civil liberties. If the government provides housing, it will be on their terms. The same for health care, school food, you name it. Less government = more freedom. It's simple.

Posted by Guest on May. 07, 2013 @ 1:57 pm

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