Public monitoring cameras coming to Everett

EVERETT — Over 70 cameras will be installed in Everett public parks and streets.
In late May, the City Council agreed to a contract with Flock Safety to use A.I. equipment for monitoring.
Three pan-tilt-zoom cameras will be placed at Jackson, Lions, and Walter E. Hall parks. City spokeswoman Simone Tarver said Everett will lease 71 license plate readers as well.
Tarver said the cameras will alert police of a vehicle “that has been reported as stolen, associated with a crime, or listed in an AMBER, Silver or Missing or Endangered Persons Alert.”
The pan-tilt-zoom cameras are helpful in “a critical incident with little context” where everyone is at risk, Tarver said. These cameras would offer police officers the ‘situational awareness” they need.
Additionally, they allow law enforcement to investigate illegal activity or address “life safety concerns” by seeing live recordings, and earlier videos, and “access remote pan-tilt-zoom features,” Tarver said, saying it lets officers assess what happens in parks more effectively.
Recordings are held for 30 days The recordings will be available for public disclosure request.
Grants are paying for the Flock Safety camera program. “The Washington Auto Theft Prevention Authority and the Department of Justice - Project Safe Neighborhood programs were each asked for $250,000, which covers the cost of a two-year agreement,” the city said in a fact sheet.
Police Department spokeswoman Officer Natalie Givens told the Herald in late May that the cameras should be installed sometime this month.
There is both support and opposition to the camera system.
City Council member Liz Vogeli does not think this will make things safer. She said at the May 29 council meeting the “police will only be using the cameras after a crime has been committed.”
In response, Everett Police Chief John DeRousse said at the meeting that technology could intervene with “a cycle of domestic violence or, in some cases, stop a crime in progress.”
DeRousse is optimistic that “this could be beneficial to our community.”
At that council meeting, Chair of the Delta Neighborhood Committee Jeff Kelly said he understands “the sentiments of other people.” DeRousse attended one of the neighborhood meetings.
Kelly said DeRousse discussed what Flock would do and the neighborhood is optimistic the cameras will not “impact them in a negative way or where their civil rights would be infringed upon.” One of the three pan-tilt-zoom cameras will be installed in Jackson Park, where he lives nearby.
City Council member Mary Fosse suggested cameras could assist the police officers in patrolling and “could serve as an alternative to police pursuits.” She added this “could help address vandalism of the city’s public restrooms.”
The technology policy director for the ACLU of Washington Tee Sannon said Flock creates “a mass surveillance system” that gathers “an unprecedented amount of data about people through its camera network.” Also, she said holding film for 30 days is lengthy and there needs to be “more state regulation.”
“The data could be used to target vulnerable groups like people traveling to Washington to access reproductive or gender-affirming health care,” Sannon said.