Defund Concord PD Action Team Update

The Defund Concord PD action team has been busy over the last few months defending Concord residents’ civil liberties and rights to privacy. We are continually asking the City Council to re-imagine community safety and reinvest in its residents.

With the support of ACLU Northern California and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Co-founder Ady Olvera led our community’s efforts fighting the introduction of a police drone program in Concord. Concord PD and Concord City Council insisted on implementing a drone program without considering a surveillance ordinance that would have provided guidance on how license plate readers, drones, and other devices are used by police in Concord. Drones have the potential to infringe on civil rights and undermine public trust and effective policing. Per the ACLU, “Various types of surveillance technology are capable of capturing and storing vast amounts of information about community members and visitors: the political rallies and religious services they attend, the health services they use, the romantic partners they have, and more.”

This concerned us, so we took action!

  • We held a community workshop to educate folks on the dangers of drone surveillance in our community.
  • We met with the Police Chief and the lead Lieutenant in advance to provide feedback on their community engagement process and request community review of their draft Use Policy -- we were met with a lot of resistance.
  • We met with Council members ahead of the public meeting to raise our concerns and ask them to pass on a drone system in Concord, and consider a surveillance ordinance and oversight community safety commission first.
  • We spoke up at several City Council meetings in opposition, and many of you turned out to support. Thank you!

Despite these efforts and public comments overwhelmingly in opposition to the drone program, the City Council ultimately approved it. Shortly after the decision, we learned the selected manufacturer of the drones was flagged by the FCC as a potential privacy and national security threat. We raised these concerns to the City Council and successfully convinced them to reconsider manufacturers. We are awaiting an update from them on this matter.

What's next?

Continuing the police surveillance fight, we have turned our attention briefly to the county level. We are working with the ACLU, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Asian Law Caucus to look at impacts of surveillance technologies on all cities in CCC and ways to work together.

Internally, we have sensed it is time for us to refocus and consider rebranding and redirecting. We are working with the ACLU on a set of community surveys to get a better sense of how our community understands safety so we can better uplift its needs. We are in the early stages of preparing these surveys and fine-tuning the questions we want to ask. Our hope is that these surveys will identify the issues our community believes are most important for us to address.

If you’d like to join this action team, and/or get more frequent updates, please email us at [email protected] or text us at (925) 304-1190.

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