SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — The San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved legislation allowing police to have access to private security cameras during situations with serious public safety concerns. The legislation passed by a vote of seven-to-four. 

The San Francisco Police Department will now be allowed to temporarily request live access to non-city-owned cameras to respond to criminal activity. In an hour-and-a-half-long discussion during Tuesday’s city supervisors meeting, supervisors on both sides of the issue shared their opinions. “This is dangerous. Even with the provisions and best intentions,” said one person at the meeting.

Under the law, police will be able to request access to a private camera during significant public safety events that are large and high-profile. District 9 supervisor Hillary Ronen felt that definition was too broad.

Ronen said in Tuesday’s meeting, “That’s pretty much saying police can surveil all live events and that makes me incredibly uncomfortable.” She proposed an amendment to remove the line that says “significant events with public safety concerns.” The amendment failed.

Ronen proposed a second amendment to have a third party review how the law was used after its initial pilot period. She said, “At the very least we should have an independent auditor really take a close look at what happened over those 15 months.”

That amendment passed. Co-author Supervisor Ahsha Safai says they can continue to update the law, even after it’s in effect. Safai said in Tuesday’s meeting, “We are putting forward a temporary piece of legislation that went through a massive public vetting and if it is not working and in any way was being abused, we can immediately come back and amend.”

SFPD released a statement saying access to cameras is a necessary tool for a 21st-century police department. The goal of this proposed policy is to clarify, affirm, and codify SFPD’s use of video surveillance technology owned and operated by businesses and individuals who want to address crime in this city.

Video footage provides objective, direct, and circumstantial evidence of the crime and notably can exonerate individuals. The new policy allows law enforcement to request temporary access for no longer than 24 hours of real-time viewing of private cameras.