GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – After controversy about Green Bay’s use of audio surveillance at city hall, a lawsuit has been filed in Brown County Circuit Court.
Defendants listed in the document obtained by Local 5 News included the City of Green Bay and Mayor Eric Genrich.
As for the plaintiffs, the 30-page document lists the Wisconsin State Senate, Senator Andre Jacque from De Pere, former council member Anthony Theisen, and Jane Doe.
The introduction of the lawsuit says that sometime within the past 18 months, Green Bay Mayor Eric Genrich ordered the installation of sensitive audio surveillance devices at city hall.
The lawsuit continues to say that Genrich never informed the Common Council of his decision or sought its approval for this “shocking invasion of privacy.”
“The Mayor’s decision to bug City Hall thus violates numerous laws and constitutional provisions that protect the public against such intrusive government surveillance,” states the lawsuit.
Earlier in February, Alderman Christopher Wery made a public service announcement, declaring that citizens, employees, and elected officials were being spied on.
“City council, nor the public, was advised of this spying, and not even simple signage warning of the intrusion was put in place,” added Wery.
Since the declaration, officials with the City of Green Bay received backlash but stated this type of security system is lawful and commonplace.
A memo from the Wisconsin Legislative Council, dated February 7, 2023, did not “detail serious legal concerns” but instead noted that security cameras with audio capabilities do not violate Wisconsin’s Electronic Surveillance Control Law (WESCL).
“As is common knowledge, security cameras have become an integral part of public safety across the country,” stated city officials. “There are 14 cameras located in multiple public areas of City Hall, including entrances, exits, and hallways. In addition, three of those cameras, located only in the hallways of the first and second floors, have audio capability.”
The city went on to state that signage was not required in these circumstances. Still, City Administration decided to install signage at City Hall, within the Metro Transit lobby, and in the lobby of the Green Bay Police Department.
No additional details were provided.