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Policy on Surveillance Technology


  City of Somerville, Massachusetts 

Contact:Denise Taylor,, 617-625-6600 ext. 210


Kacey Brister,, 617-625-6600 ext. 2620


October 4, 2017




Executive order balances privacy and civil liberty protections with police investigative and public safety needs;


Requires new approval, operational, and public notification protocols


SOMERVILLE–As surveillance technology proliferates nationally, the City of Somerville has joined 19 U.S. cities and two states working with the ACLU to protect individual rights while preserving public safety. On Oct. 4, with the full support of the Somerville Police Department, Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone signed the Executive Policy on Surveillance Technology, which is believed to be the first such policy implemented in the Commonwealth



The new policy creates greater transparency and controls on potentially invasive technologies such as surveillance cameras. It goes into effect immediately and includes new approval, operational, and public notification and meeting requirements on the purchase and implementation of surveillance technology, with exceptions made for emergency police investigative or public safety needs.


Technology is changing fast, and it’s our responsibility to be sure our policies keep up, but we faced a real challenge here. New surveillance tools can be critical to effective police work. Meanwhile, privacy and civil liberty protections are critical to a free democracy. That’s why this policy introduces checks and balances designed to keep the public safe from crime as well as from privacy and rights violations,” said Mayor Curtatone. I want to thank the ACLU of Massachusetts, community members, and the examples set by our fellow cities for helping us develop an informed policy that best serves the public interest.”


Going forward, a multi-step process will now be required before new surveillance technology may be  purchased and deployed in the city. After the Board of Aldermen has approved any necessary appropriations or grants, this new process requires Mayoral approval and public notification plans that includopportunity for public meetings. In addition to various oversight requirements, the policy states that operational protocols describing how the department's use of the equipment will be regulated to protect privacy, anonymity, and limit the risk of potential abuse” as well as how and when data will be collected and retained and who will have access to any data captured” must also be transparent and pre- approved.


To ensure criminal investigations and public safety actions are not impeded, an exception allows the Somerville Police Department to use surveillance equipment on a temporary basis subject to a series of requirement and approvals, such as in the case of a lawfully issued search warrant.


Introducing greater transparency and engagement around the tools we use to protect public safety fits right in with our community policing goals. When we build trust and confidence in our force and our methods, we strengthen the community connections that ultimately help us keep Somerville safe,said Chief of Police David Fallon. “The Massachusetts Police Accreditation Commission understands this, which is why surveillance transparency is one of the steps required of police departments seeking full accreditation, as the SPD is.”


As other cities have done, the Somerville policy seeks to be future-proofvia requirements that will apply broadly to all emerging surveillance technology. However, specific steps regarding video surveillance—the only surveillance technology currently in use in Somervillewill follow. The SPD will be posting their policies and procedures for use and operation of all video surveillance technology as well as an inventory of all camera locations in the citySPD has noted that there is no evidence that identifying the location of cameras leads to more crime, but rather, it can be a deterrent.


  "Kudos to Mayor Curtatone for taking leadership on this critically important issue. Far too often, police departments across Massachusetts and the country obtain invasive, costly surveillance equipment in the dark, without any meaningful transparency or oversight. This executive policy charts against that trend, requiring public transparency and engagement, thoughtful deliberation, and approval by a democraticallelecteofficial before the Somerville police can acquire surveillance technology like drones and cell phone tracking devices,” said Kade Crockford, Technology for Liberty Program Director, of the ACLU of Massachusetts. Pursuant to this policy, we look forward to working with the people of Somerville to ensure new technologies don't get out ahead of our rights and encourage other municipalities in Massachusetts to adopt their own strong policies to that effect."


Read the Mayor's Executive Policy on Surveillance Technology 



Beyond the Call of Duty Jan 2018

This Beyond The Call Of Duty Award is based on a recommendation from Officer Anthony Manzelli, and from a in-depth conversation with Mr. George Mihos, the owner of Tech Auto Body in Union Square.

On Thursday, December 28, 2017, a man and his young son drove down from Marston Mills intending to buy a car from Tech Auto Body in Union Square. The car was for the man's son, who had worked long hours to save up the $3,000 he was going to use to buy this car. Of course, the money was all cash and in a white envelope. You can guess where this one is going.

According to Mr. Mihos, he allowed the two to take the car for a test drive, and when they returned, they couldn't find the money. They frantically looked in the car, in Tech's parking lot, and along the route, they traveled on the test drive. At one point during the drive, they got out of the car somewhere on Highland Avenue to inspect the sunroof. Unfortunately, when they returned to that spot, they were not able to locate the envelope there, either. Dejected, they returned to Tech where they told Mr. Mihos that they were just going to drive home. Mr. Mihos suggested that they go to the Somerville Police Station to report the lost envelope, "just in case somebody found it and turned it in." After doing this, they started the long drive back to the Cape.

Matt Khoury happened to be in the Station and learned of what happened. The weather was extremely cold, but he took it upon himself to go out there to try to find the money. Sure enough, Matt was able to find that white envelope at the corner of Highland and Hamlet. One happy father and son returned to the Station, collected their money, and purchased the car. Mr. Mihos told me that he couldn't believe it. "That officer did a great job. He saved the day." Great job, Matt, for going above and beyond the call of duty, and thank you, Anthony, for making sure that this story did not go untold.



Help ID Suspect for City Hall Vandalism

Help Identify City Hall Vandalism Suspect


Somerville MA.,--- On Saturday, December 9th, at approximately 1:30 am. Alarms went off at Somverville's City Hall. Police at the scene discovered 3 broken windows (front door, basement and second-floor windows on the School St. side). The suspect is observed on surveillance footage, but we need help trying to identify the suspect. If anyone has any information on the suspect, they can email Sgt. Capasso at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or call 617-625-1600 ext. 7276. 


CityHall Vandal

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