In December of 2017, the Mayor pushed for the City of Hartford to accept a $2.5million grant from the State of Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development. Funds were sought after by State Senator John Fonfarra and grant was drafted by his office. These funds were earmarked to go to the Hartford Police Department. Some City of Hartford Councilmembers felt strongly about approving the grant, because it included a provision for the funds to be used to acquire surveillance technology, including drones. Some Councilmembers believed the use of surveillance technology by the HPD would be a good resource for catching illegal ATV activity. After, the Hartford City Council approved the grant, the HPD purchased two $100,000 drones from Aero Surveillance. Currently, there are no state laws that regulate drone use.
This document is a breakdown of the use and purpose of drones and surveillance equipment and a proposed ordinance amending the Hartford Municipal Code to set boundaries for the use of the technology.
Our proposed Ordinance, submitted on November 13, 2018, by Councilwomen rJo Winch, Claudine Fox and Councilmen T.J. Clarke and Larry Deutsch, forces municipal departments in the City of Hartford, like the Hartford Police Department to seek approval from the City Council to purchase or use new surveillance technology, and it guarantees that you, the Hartford community, will have a voice in that process. When our city fails to keep police surveillance technology in check and keep the public informed, Hartford residents will suffer the consequences, and your faith in our democracy will be undermined. Therefore, we are asking for your support to pass our Ordinance and restore the community’s control over police surveillance.
Why does the City of Hartford want drones and surveillance equipment?
- Police would like to use the drones for crowd surveillance in an effort to predict crime through the use of analytical software.
- Police would like to use the drones in the pursuit of ATV activity and in stolen vehicle chases.
- Police would like to use the drones for public surveillance in an effort to predict crime.
- Police and firefighters would like to use drones to help in search and rescue.
- Firefighters would like to use drones for the assessment of a building’s stability to ensure fire fighter safety and to obtain aerial footage of a fire for the purposes of planning.
What is covered in the proposed ordinance?
- The purchase of new surveillance technology must be approved by City Council after a public hearing has been held.
- City departments using surveillance technology and drones must submit yearly reports about their use of the technology to City Council.
- Each city department that wishes to buy a drone must write its own policy for the use of drones and the information they record.
- Regulates the use and storage of data acquired by the drones, including when data collected must be reviewed, how long the information can be stored, how it can be shared.
- Ensures the information and data acquired by surveillance equipment is not used in discriminatory ways and that your identity is protected if you appear in a video as a bystander.
- Requires training for any city employee who operates a drone to minimize accidents.
- Includes specific provisions to protect children’s privacy.
- Includes a provision that states new surveillance technology information can not be shared with a business and that information collected must be proprietary to the City of Hartford.
- Includes a provision that states that use of drones will not be used to eliminate public service employees including police officers.
Why is it important to structure the use of drones by the City of Hartford?
- The protection of privacy for residents.
- Protection of vulnerable populations like children, undocumented people, and others.
- To keep a record with information on when, why, and where the drones are used for the purposes of transparency and liability.
Download fact sheet here