Deborah Delgado, Hattiesburg Ward 2 Councilwoman
Deborah Delgado, Hattiesburg Ward 2 councilwoman

Three months after equipping police with dashboard and body cameras, the city of Hattiesburg could consider new rules governing their use.

Ward 2 Councilwoman Deborah Delgado said she will propose regulations for police surveillance equipment and allow for public input into how local police fund, acquire and use the equipment.

In June, the Hattiesburg city council voted unanimously to spend $249,410 for dash and body cams, WDAM reported. Delgado told Mississippi Today that she has not heard about any negative consequences of using the cameras and that her legislation is designed to protect the rights of police and citizens.

“Governments have used surveillance throughout history to suppress free speech, intimidate leaders of political movements, and track individuals and communities. Such technologies are disproportionately used to target communities of color and low income communities,” Delgado said in press release from the ACLU, which is coordinating with several cities to introduce similar bills nationwide.

Hattiesburg is the only Mississippi municipality included in the first wave of cities to introduce surveillance ordinances.

Jennifer Riley-Collins, executive director of the ACLU of Mississippi, said in a statement that “the use of surveillance by local police has been spreading unchecked across the country without regard for the communities that they purport to serve.”

Delgado will introduce the bill at an Oct. 4 work session, which will include an opportunity for public comment.

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Ryan L. Nave, a native of University City, Mo., served as Mississippi Today's editor-in-chief from May 2018 until April 2020. Ryan began his career with Mississippi Today February 2016 as an original member of the editorial team. He became news editor August 2016. Ryan has a bachelor’s in political science from the University of Missouri-Columbia and has worked for Illinois Times and served as news editor for the Jackson Free Press.