From Drones to Data Collection, Chula Vista Holds Public Forums to Shape Privacy Policy

The City of Chula Vista has had community outreach meetings to discuss citizens' privacy since March, with the next meeting scheduled for Thursday

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Drones are the eye in the sky to help Chula Vista Police respond to 911 calls and serve search warrants but for some residents, the aerial cameras are a major privacy concern.

“Respect our privacy. That's our issue here," said Sergio Villarreal, who attended a community forum at the South Chula Vista Branch Library Wednesday night to express his concerns directly to the people who form privacy policies for the city.

On the other side of the forum were representatives from the City of Chula Vista's 12-person Technology and Privacy Advisory Task Force.

"We want to assure them by engaging in an interactive way [which] will allow us to address any concerns they have,” said Dennis Gakunga, Chief Sustainability Officer for Chula Vista.

Residents were concerned not only with the drones CVPD uses, but other technologies the city uses as well, like the four police cars equipped with license plate readers, the information stored in library records and devices and traffic signal cameras.

In 2018, the Chula Vista Police department started using drones to help police officers respond to 911 calls. Though you can see drone flight data online, that still doesn’t ease Norrel Martinez's concerns about how technology could disproportionately affect communities of color.

“Implementation of surveillance technology isn't deployed justly. Communities of color are overpoliced," Martinez said.

The task force will gather residents' concerns and suggestions and use them to make recommendations to the city manager. The manager will then be tasked with developing new policies for council review in November.

Another community meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday at the Otay Ranch Branch Library.

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