Smile For The Camera: New Bars Might Be Taping You, Giving The Footage To SFPD

As reported earlier, a lot of new bars have been popping up in SF lately. But did you know that at least some of those new bars will be recording you coming and going, and will be turning over that footage to the SFPD, if asked?

As the Ex reports, for at least two bars attempting to get their liquor licenses approved, SFPD has added a stipulation that requires the bars to set up cameras at their doorways, the footage from which must be stored for 30 days, and will be turned over to SFPD at their request.

During Tuesday’s Board of Supes meeting, Supervisor Scott Wiener took issue with the surveillance rule, expressing concerns that these liquor license ad-ons were “an effort by the Police Department to eventually enact a citywide policy of surveillance at all bars by adding the condition as individual liquor licenses come up for approval,” the Ex reports.

“If you have an establishment that perhaps has a track record of bad things happening, that’s one thing. But absent that, I don’t believe that this is justified,” Wiener said.

Supervisor Kim defended the plan, arguing that the video can be “incredibly useful” for crime investigations.

Board of Supervisors President David Chiu suggested the Supes ask SFPD for an explanation of the surveillance policy “so that we can ensure that we are both maximizing our city’s civil liberties and ensuring public safety at the same time.”

According to the DNA Lounge’s blog, last month an SFPD officer “called to remind us that we’re required to have video surveillance that records everything our customers do, and to give that footage to SFPD any time they ask, without a warrant or explanation.”

When the nightclub told the officer that the DNA was in fact not required to do this, they say they “got a call from this guy’s boss, admitting that while we’re not technically required to, we really, really should ‘consider’ it.”

“Yeah, it’s really weird that you don’t have that condition, because they’re putting that on everybody’s permits now. Nobody else has fought it,” the DNA says they were told by someone with San Francisco’s Entertainment Commission.

The topic of nightclub violence is a hot one, with a recent shooting at 330 Ritch and a stabbing outside Noble.

In the case of the March 23rd shooting at 330 Ritch, the Police Department has assigned an officer specializing in video surveillance to review security footage taken in the area to try to find leads in the case, police spokesman Officer Carlos Manfredi said at the time.

At publication time, no arrests have been made in either case.

the author

Always in motion. April Siese writes about music, takes photos at shows, and even helps put them on behind the scenes as a stagehand. She's written everything from hard news to beauty features, as well as fiction and poetry. She most definitely likes pie.

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