Baltimore PD Wants 24-Hour HD Surveillance Drones to Enforce Social Distancing

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The Baltimore Police Department and “Persistent Surveillance,” an Ohio-based company, signed a deal together to spy on the residents of Baltimore, Maryland with drones. In Nazi Germany, fascism was characterized by the fusion between corporate and government power.

This shady company was under fire almost 4 years ago in 2016, for doing surveillance with the Baltimore Police Department and violating their own 45-day data retention policy.

Give an inch, they take a mile. Their client, the BPD was able to violate their official policy with impunity. “All media will be stored in a secure area with access restricted to authorized persons,” states the official policy of Persistent Surveillance Systems. “Recordings not otherwise needed for criminal evidence or for official reasons are retained for a period of 45 days and then destroyed.”

The company used drones to collect over 300 hours of aerial surveillance footage over Baltimore throughout 8 months in 2016.

This was directly after nationwide scrutiny came to the department in the aftermath of the death of Freddie Gray, which sparked nationwide protests.

City officials approved the new deal on April 1, and then the ACLU filed a lawsuit against the Baltimore Police Department about a week and a half later on April 9.

How invasive is surveillance in Baltimore?

The drones will be equipped with high-resolution cameras, capable of posing a real threat to the security of anyone deemed a “criminal.”

The ACLU emphasized that this crosses a massive line, explaining that the plan places every resident of Baltimore “under constant aerial surveillance.”

“It is equivalent to having a police officer follow us, each of us, outside all the time in case we might commit a crime,” senior staff attorney for the ACLU of Maryland, David Rocah said. “If that happened in real life, everyone would clearly understand the privacy and First Amendment implications, and it would never be tolerated.”

The high definition surveillance drones can reportedly cover around 90% of the City of Baltimore’s land area at any particular moment.

The ACLU noted that in combination with cameras on the ground accessed by the Baltimore Police Department, license plate readers, and other sources of info, it can all be combined to provide detailed information about the actions, identities, whatever you can think of, in regard to residents.

Representing the philosophical split between the fundamentally opposed sides of totalitarian vs not totalitarian, a Baltimore Police Commissioner admitted the police will in fact combine the data and have massively increased power.

“This actually can serve as a force multiplier for the police department, and perhaps can be used as an investigative tool while we are practicing social distancing,” said Police Commissioner Michael Harrison.

This week happens to be the 5 year anniversary of Freddie Gray’s tragic death at the hands of the Baltimore Police Department.

It sparked protests throughout 2015 from Baltimore, Maryland to Sacramento, California, coast to coast in the US during a year of police brutality-awareness.

“Putting residents under continuous, aerial surveillance will impact the privacy rights of everyone, but it is especially dangerous for Black and Brown communities,” the ACLU representative said. “Baltimore is a city with a terrible history of racism and lack of accountability for abuses by police. It’s the last place a novel system of mass surveillance should be tested.”

Will your city be next?

Common sense tells us that if one American city is under totalitarian drone surveillance, more will follow.

The ACLU recognized that possibility as well. A staff attorney with the ACLU stated that they are concerned if the drones are deployed in Baltimore, police across America will try to use police drones.

This month, in April 2020 the drones are set to launch, and this “trial period” of their use will last 180 days. A decision will be made by April 24, regarding the ACLU lawsuit against the Baltimore Police Department.

If the police drones are deployed, it will probably happen around the end of April.

If the trial comes to an end and the drone use is discontinued, according to their promises, the drones will be out of the sky around 6 months from their launch: the end of October.

Baltimore, Maryland is of course known to have one of the highest crime rates in not just America, but the world, providing a heavy justification for deploying police drones equipped with high definition cameras.

If the drones were deployed and accepted, one might see a city like Chicago or Atlanta, San Francisco or New York adopt them. San Diego-area city Chula Vista, California is already using police drones equipped with similar night vision cameras, to spot people breaking quarantine rules.

A line into totalitarianism is being crossed.

5 years after one of the most protested police murders in American history, the city of Baltimore is threatened with becoming the location of the line being crossed. Baltimore is threatened with becoming the location of a new paradigm of totalitarian surveillance, a fork in the road in history that we can either fight now or be subject to for who knows how many years.

It will definitely take more than civil liberties organizations and lawsuits to shut down a movement like this, directly aimed at the civilian class. This could be considered equal to a declaration of war against the common people: a very clear line being crossed that could usher in true totalitarianism.

What scenarios might people see if these drones were deployed throughout America? Jails and prisons might fill up with people charged with new crimes, destruction of surveillance drones and things like that. Your every move could be watched when you’re outside your home. Where you go who you go there with…and yes, even if you aren’t doing anything wrong, you do have something to worry about: your complete invasion of privacy.

It’s difficult to believe people will be accepting of this. Either way, this moment of the line being crossed is extremely important to recognize. Whatever social power we have, it should be utilized to oppose the persistent advances of totalitarianism and the surveillance state.

About Cassius

Cassius K is a writer from North Highlands, California.

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Cassius K

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    • I can’t imagine anyone thinking the blanket invasion of privacy is a good thing. I truly can’t wrap my brain around wanting to give away your freedom of person for any reason. It’s up to me to protect myself. It is not up to society to spy on me for my own good.

      • I agree, in principle.
        The problem is that we gave that up, a long long time ago.

        They spy on our Email, our web posts, our cell phone usage and track our movement with license plate readers, cell phones, drones, spy satellites, video cameras and everything else, already.
        They track your buying habits, credit card usage and your personal preferences in shopping, opinions, etc.

        So where do you have this “privacy”?
        You don’t, it is just a delusion, they they let you have.

        None of this technology is perfect and it is doubtful (at this point), that they compile all of this data into one master file on everyone. But that does not mean the data is not being recorded and that if they desire to, they can access it.

        This is just a tooth on the cog of a much bigger machine, even if something could be done about this, it is only chipping a tooth in the machine. The machine continues to roll along,
        What needs to be done is to, shut down the surveillance machine entirely. But that opens us up to more Terrorist threats and attacks, enemy spy rings, criminal organizations and such operations.

        There are no easy answers in this day and age.
        Personal responsibility and community involvement are the solutions. But that is a much deeper matter, than what can be addressed here.

  • People are not accepting of this, but if you can’t mobilize people to fight it then it can be dangerous for small groups to manage. Had more people protested the lockdowns in MI then the police could not have shut them down. People have to power if they choose to use it, but it does take coordination.

  • Isn’t that the way gov’t always operates?
    First, they kill somebody, and then they enslave everybody else in memory of his name. Right?

  • Y’all need to be careful what you wish for cause you might just get it. You wanted that type of government and this it what comes with it.
    Are they doing this in my “city” and will it be next? uh no lol that’s not how things work round here. “Cities” yall trying to have your cake and eat it too. It don’t work like that at all.
    What funniest to me is all the stuff is local government and not the FEMA deathcamp march and other national stuff being touted over the years. It’s governors, mayors and other locals dropping the foot down on the neck.
    So how did this help me get prepared?

    • Matt in OK said,
      “What funniest to me is all the stuff is local government and not the FEMA deathcamp march and other national stuff being touted over the years. It’s governors, mayors and other locals dropping the foot down on the neck.”

      Not sure if that was design by the Fed/Trump, or just fact of the matter.
      What I am seeing is the real level of power of the states/local vs the Fed government.
      It would be one thing if this was something more mundane, like a political power grab. This is a real pandemic. Not some hoax. I have no problem with doing my social and civic duty to do what I can to keep from spreading this to others. I do not see it as infringement on my rights. When this thing finally passes, I do not expect there to be any less of my rights. Now, what do things look like on the other side of all this, no one knows. Those who do, I ignore as they cannot tell me what tomorrow will bring than anyone else. And if they did, they would of played the powerball winning numbers.

      As for drones, I can see the need for some high crime areas. But, as they did with SWAT teams, I could see the government expanding into over reach.
      We have drones here, but not these small little ones but the big boys. The airspace here is use for drone R&D by the military. They use our homes, livestock heat signatures to test their IR sensors.
      Smile and wave boys! Smile and wave!

      • I teach the use of drones (specifically mavic mini and phantoms) for law enforcement and military. I created the course used in my area from the ground up on how to train them. The drone programs typically will have limitations put in place and from what I’ve seen will have things like “we will not use private contractors” for this reason. In trainings, one of the biggest things covered beyond basic legality and safety is the fact that we as civilians are not fans of them using drones, so they need to make their policies with our input and put in restrictions on what they can do, when they can do it, where they can, etc. if you are interested, I can post a link to the actual policies for the local pd.

        • Phantom
          You can post the links but it won’t help. This was a baitclick “hate the man” article that runs rampant on “preparedness” sites. Baltimore is a spun out of control infested hole that needs a different kind of drone to deal with it’s crime issues and liberal failing policies.
          If LEOs don’t do anything they are the issue if they do something they are the issue. The article could have been written by the mayors who are in the pockets of the dope dealers. The issue is those who are the issue but no one wants to blame them for anything. They are more worried about a cop watching a drone screen than a gang banger shooting up the neighborhood killing innocent people who try and work for a living and do right. That tells you bout everything you need to know.
          The fact that Baltimore’s police are still trying to get outside the box and do anything is remarkable because they are met with resistance at every turn from politicians, other people making money from crime and the press. I woulda lost interest and moved.
          Hold an open city council hearing on if drones should be used and you know how many of the posters and commenter’s are at the meeting? NONE. I know because I’m there. They don’t pay attention until it’s too late. Too busy on Netflix and tik tok and “aint nobody got time for that”.
          Now open meetings are a thing of the past due to the virus so what yall should be doing is figuring out how to deal with that. Now they will pass things you wont know about till after the fact. Oh wait so it’s no different because you were not paying attention before. The argument of being watched 24-7 is redundant because cameras already do that and a lot of yall help with your own cameras.
          Wow I feel so much better prepared to deal with things now after this article ohh wee.

  • Benito Mussolini invented fascism , a merger of state and corporate power. The Nazi’s and Hitler were socialists and popularized German national Socialism, a big difference

  • The police must never forget that we do not do their bidding outside the law. The police do our bidding because they work for us, not the other way around.

  • First of all this is tyranny you get when the people fear and rely on government for everything. Its time to make the pendulums swing the other way where they fear the people.

    You think that any previous generation would accept this or that the government would even try to do this? The tree of freedom needs to be refreshed from time to time by blood of patriots and tryrants.

    They need to be reminded and put in their place they serve US not the faceless souless corperations.

  • Really? Given the crime in that area and number of gangs. Myself, I don’t give a flying frock if they fly a drone anywhere they want too. If you are not causing trouble, don’t worry .

    Now let all of the nut-job Libertarian troll preppers spit out their nonsense, who cares?

    • Seminole Wind, allow me to spit out my nonsense
      I don’t give two hoots or a tinkers damn the crime and gang problem in Baltimore. Let the city hire more cops to do the job and quit spending money on worthless social feel good problems. If the sheriff here applied drones to spy on people,he would find himself out of a job,jacked up in court with all the lawsuits, and a lot of shot up scrap metal on his hands. And I would be one of many using them as target practice.

    • Hello, nut-job libertarian prepper here.

      I am not causing trouble and I absolutely worry about it. I worry about my privacy being invaded when I’ve committed no crimes. I worry about having agencies track everywhere I go and keeping my “data.” I worry about the future when something I did perfectly innocent and it comes back to haunt me because it’s later against the law.

      I really like you, Seminole Wind, and think you’re a good person. But the argument “if you aren’t doing anything wrong you don’t have anything to worry about” is pure ignorance. It saddens me that any American could normalize being constantly surveilled. It’s the complete opposite of what it means to be American.

      • Miss Daisy, you know that I love you too, (in Christ Jesus of course) . People are worried and suffering from cabin fever, fear too. Like your friend Selco writes, deal with the small circles. So maybe we all should calm down and not get bent out of shape over some flying egg beaters in Maryland?

        Stay safe and God Bless

        • Nicely put. I believe in worrying about things locally. I can’t do anything but write and call the reps. That’s all that you can do. Stay abreast of the situation, and improve, improve, and improve some more.

    • Oh, I think we know who the nut-job is. So, you are willing to give up your freedom for security? Life is not without risk, perhaps you can find someone who will take you in and care for you, tell you what to do, when to do it. Have you ever seen the move “Soylent Green” with Charlton Heston? Maybe you can get a job as “furniture”, that sounds about right.

  • You will know when it is finalized when 1984 is banned. If you haven’t read it (or at least seen the 1956 or the 1984 movie version), then I urge you to do so. Orwell saw this coming in 1948.

  • Baltimore is near D.C. & Baltimore is Like Oakland, Chicago, Detroit with Large Ghetto Populations who have Histories of Rioting – So this has Everything to do with Protecting the Moneyed, Political & Power Class in around the Rich Burbs of D.C. – so why not do like L.A. did with Helicopters except use Drones 24/7/365 – Gotta keep the Slaves on the Plantation.

  • I sincerely hope a lot of cleaver people will work out ways of foiling or distroying, or jamming these drones, first get a spectrum analysis of the video transmitter and it will not only give the video, gps, and control feed back . Once you find that out, you may even be able to take control of the units.
    O just use wrist rockets and heavy fishing weights to damage or distroy the units.

  • THE GOVERNMENT IN AMERICA IS CORRUPT BECAUSE THE POLICE GANGS PROTECT THE REAL CRIMINALS AT THE TOP,america is falling,and there are NO MEN to prevent it,SLAVERY is what the people want,ITS THAT, OR THE BLOOD WILL FLOW LIKE WATER IN THE STREETS,LETS hope its their blood on the sidewalks….

  • #4 Buck 3″ Magnum 12 gauge rounds work on geese and drones. Just an FYI Public Service announcement????????????????

  • May be they should have used the money to clean up there hell hole city. Piles of crap and other assorted waist. Good breeding ground for rats, mice, all kind of bugs, and germs of all sorts. But I guess that does not count, since the residents of that city must like living in a third world city.

  • “They” Have been using drones here in Los Angeles for about 3 years now.Blue/Green xmas lights seem to give them a problem at night & folks with IR lasers are having alot of fun with them as well! If you can’t get out of it,Get into it!!

  • What, I can’t walk hand in hand with my sweetheart of 45 years? What a bunch of hooie! So is there going to be a loud speaker shouting out orders at intervals or some surveyor in an office box somewhere ready to take down my name with a scan of my face? Eventually? LEOs were handing out tickets at the local home depot the other day because people were not observing the rule. The police can’t be everywhere. So. Eventually, yes.

    Looks like our privacy is just going to have to move a little closer to our person. We are already advised to wear masks in public. That helps. What about adding sunglasses, sombreros or sunhats with veils along with draping ponchos to confuse our outline? Designer gray-man. There’s a reason gangsters wear over-sized hoodies.

    So. “They” want to muddy the clear waters of our constitutional rights. We can just muddy up our appearance in public. Maybe that is naïve. But a little Spartacus could go a long way if they are wanting to control the goal posts for the sake of a virus. “I am Spartacus.” Then we can all die together.

    Oh, the ironies of empire come round again. Stand your ground. Stay the course. Aim small, miss small and all that. We know in our hearts what we are but we don’t have to let them fool us into thinking we’re not free people.

  • It’s politicians and police that need to under 25 hours under surveillance. At home, at work, at play, we need to know what they do 25 hours a day as pubic officials that MAKE and ENFARCE their laws on the rest of US.

  • I find it highly ironic that this came through my inbox today, of all days! My “essential manufacturing” employer is in the midst of several major repairs/add-ons to our facility. I had it reported to me, several times/people that there was a drone checking out the construction crews (one crew on the roof and the other was on the ground). Supposedly the drone was from the county (how anybody can tell, I don’t know). Our county sheriff website does say that they can/do enforcement through a drone.
    Anyways… my mind immediately went to how to “defeat” it. My mind immediately went to ham radio researchs/tudying and the subject of RF interference.
    Without going into details, suffice it to say that these things are controlled by a radio signal (frequency). Many things, particularly ham radios, can “outcompete” the operator’s controller signal. This could be done much more discreetly than trying to blast the thing with a shotgun, but you could still be caught (…but there are ways around this also), so it’s not foolproof. Of course the federal radio gubbermint people would likely crucify someone, if they ever could catch someone doing this!

  • I live less than 15 minutes from the city of murderville! It’s no fun! The criminals have never stopped murdering or dealing drugs from day 1 of lockdown! Business as usual.
    They want to do it to curb crime not social distance. It’s been in the works for over a year now.

  • “Those willing to give up their liberties, in the name of security, deserves neither”
    — Ben Franklin

    So why is there so little protest over all the government actions that have been taken in the overreaction to the CV19 virus? Businesses forced to close, people told they have to stay in their houses, are not allowed to exercise in parks because some might come to close to others, force people to wear masks when they leave home, make people stand in lines 6ft apart and so much more ?

    I’m wondering why the ACLU and like are not suing government right and left over the orders forced on American citizens. Here’s an article that digs into the question:

    Why Aren’t Americans Suing Their Way Out of Lockdown?
    Robert E. Wright
    – April 13, 2020

    • Because a paycheck is involved – most people don’t understand “it’s not free money in conjunction with a vacation”.

  • I can’t believe I’m saying this, but congress should pass a law that all drones used in the us should be identifiable in some way. All airplanes have a “tail number” painted near the rear of the aircraft for identification purposes as administered by the FAA. Most drones are to small for painted ID numbers, but there must be some way for the surveillanceed to know who is surveillanceing them.

    • Like a IFF (Identify Friend vs Foe)?
      Have all drones squwak a cell phone receivable signal IDing the drone. User has an app that picks up the signal, IDs the drone as who is the user (that person has to register the drone before use).
      Could be used against stalkers or those weirdos who like to follow/watch children.
      Just an idea.

  • Sadly, I still live in the Baltimore Metro area and cannot afford to leave yet for multiple reasons (house underwater still from 2008, job issue, etc). To me, the underlying issue isn’t catching the criminals which is the City language “Shootimore” is hiding behind, but it’s that the corruption in this city runs so deep that whether the drones were good/bad, it won’t make a difference other than to be another expense passed on to the few tax payers left within the City boundaries. Police have open knowledge of the people committing crimes already, but are fearful to make arrests. There is so much racial tension here still. The city has created a black/white hate over many generations and a separateness in the mind-set that isn’t being overcome due to the ongoing dialect about what’s happening to this “black” sector versus the “white” sector (which includes hispanics when it’s convenient). Everything gets broken down to color. The “western” side of the City has more covid reports the media. Well, maybe it’s more about their socio-economic structure (living closer quarters, less access to healthcare, education & income levels, health issues like asthma or obesity (causing diabetes). I bet you could jump to sections of Western-VA that are primarily “white” and have very similar outcomes. Anyway, all that said, the drones are invasive and truly won’t make ANY difference in anyone’s safety. They simply check another political cover box in an extremely corrupt City government. I’ve lived in/near other cities and never seen anything like this before – can’t wait to get out of here!!!

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