NAACP Perth Amboy Request to Table $2 million Police Technology Acquisition Denied by City Council

At the Monday January 9, 2023 Perth Amboy City Council Caucus Meeting, the Caba Administration proposed the $2 million purchase of police technology including surveillance cameras city wide and license plate scanners on all police and other city vehicles, among other items. The Perth Amboy branch of the NAACP attended the meeting and spoke and said that the proposal was unexpected and asked the City Council to table the resolution to purchase the equipment so they could have more time to gather information about the purchase and ask questions. Councilman BJ Torres moved to table the purchase and there was no second from the other council members. The NAACP said they thought the proposal had already been rejected last year and citizens had spoke in opposition of technology and in favor of investments in community policing. The NAACP said they oppose use of facial recognition technology because of its negative impact on people of color especially for mistaken identity. Councilman Torres asked if it could be included in the proposal that the Police will not purchase facial recognition technology. Police Chief Cattano said that this purchase was not for facial recognition technology and any future purchases would have to go before the city council. The proposal is set to be voted on Wednesday Jan 11. The funds to be used are the American Rescue Funds.

Questions about the police technology purchase have been asked with the following response from the Police Dept.

  1. How many cameras are being purchased/going to be set up around the city? Response from Police-The exact number has not been determined.
  2. Does the city plan to inform the residents about where the cameras are for transparency? Response from Police-They will be placed where there is no “expectation of privacy.”
  3. Does the department have the resources to watch the cameras? Response from Police-The Software will provide “alerts” of anomalies to alert personnel.
  4. Will residents have access to the cameras via an app? Response from Police-What is legally permissible will be considered.
  5. How will these cameras be used to address problems for example speeding? This was one of the most important quality of life issues communicated by Water St residents. Response from Police-the software monitoring the cameras will provide “alerts” regarding anomalies/irregularities to include possible traffic infractions.
  6. Are there any prioritized public safety issues/quality of life issues that technology is going to be used to address? Response from Police-Preventing and solving crimes and other offenses.  It is the goal of Perth Amboy Police to address all quality of life concerns for the safety of all residents.
  7. Since there is going to be 24/7 footage, resident might expect that reporting incidents will result in tickets and increased enforcement. Will the City be giving out a large number of tickets for quality of life type reported incidents that are documented on the tapes? Response from Police-Education is primary “tool” for compliance with applicable laws.  If violators persist, summons are an option.   We cannot predict the number of future incidents, nor the type of enforcement (i.e. education / summons) at this time.  No way to predict the outcome but results will be monitored.