The city of Vallejo has extended its deadline to Feb. 25 for prospective applicants who want to be a part of its planned Surveillance Advisory Board.

The Vallejo City Council approved the formation of the board in September after concern was raised about the Vallejo Police Department’s use of — or possible intention to use — cell-site simulators, license plate readers, and closed-circuit television cameras, facial recognition software, drones, x-ray vans, and other technologies.

Vallejo Police Chief Shawny Williams has repeatedly stated that such technology is essential due to chronic understaffing.

The advisory board will serve as an independent watchdog to advise the city and City Council on best practices to protect the privacy and other civil rights of residents. It will also conduct meetings to gather public input concerning the use of surveillance technology, gather information and advice from experts in privacy and technology issues, and serve as a liaison between all parties, a city spokesperson said.

Citizen group Oakland Privacy sued the Vallejo in June 2020 for purchasing cell-site simulators, also known as “stingrays,” before drafting a privacy policy, as required by law. Stingrays are trackers that law enforcement use to locate targets, such as suspects or missing persons. They mimic cell phone towers and intercept phone signals. Civil libertarians and some residents feared that giving law enforcement improper access to such data could violate people’s civil rights.

Oakland Privacy prevailed in its suit, forcing Vallejo to draft a privacy policy and ultimately leading to a discussion for the need for independent oversight of any surveillance initiatives in the city.