Dear Detroit City Council…

Below is an email sent to the members of Detroit City Council on January 26, 2018. As of February 23, 2018, only the office of Councilman Roy McCalister has even bothered to responded.

Dear Council Member,

I’m writing to express my concerns regarding Project Green Light, both as presently structured and as it might be implemented in an ordinance mandating participation. In concession to brevity and clarity at the expense of style, my concerns are in bullet-point format.

  • The City has not presented any evidence that crime at Project Green (PGL) Light locations has dropped faster than crime in the city overall. A study comparing crime at PGL and non-PGL sites seems reasonable before forcing business owners to spend thousands of dollars on a camera system.
  • The City has not presented any evidence that cameras – as opposed to improved lighting or increased police presence that come with PGL – are responsible for a reduction in crime beyond the overall drop in the Detroit crime rates.  Studies show that increased lighting and increased police engagement can prevent crime. Studies show that camera surveillance networks do not prevent crime or increase conviction rates. What makes PGL different. (I can send you these studies if you like.)
  • The City has not presented any evidence of crimes prevented by live surveillance alone. In other words, how many crimes have been prevented because police were dispatched solelyin response to monitoring personnel viewing a crime in progress.  Unless this happens regularly, it is unclear how live surveillance is any better than recorded footage which can be accessed by request or court order.
  • The City has not presented any rules, regulations, or policies governing the access, collection, retention, sharing, distribution, or other use of video or other data collected by PGL cameras. Specifically, it is unclear whether state and federal law enforcement agencies or private citizens can monitor the cameras or request video.
  • The City has not shared the process by which mandatory vendors for equipment and services were selected.
  • The City has not shared the source of the facial recognition database used with PGL or DPD policies regarding the inclusion of individuals in such a database.
  • The City has not developed any policies or regulations that would assure Detroiters that they would not be subject to additional surveillance because of their religion, politics, race, etc. For example, will DPD (or the FBI or ICE or ATF or IRS) be allowed to monitor the meetings of Muslims, immigration activist, or labor leaders taking place in a restaurant or other facility that is closed to the public for the meeting/event.

These concerns are in addition to that arise under the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the United States Constitution.

Thank you for your time.

Eric C. Williams


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