Public Defender to Baltimore Police: Suspend Use of Surveillance Plane

BALTIMORE (WJZ)—The Public Defenders Office in Baltimore has called on the city police department to stop videotaping residents from the sky.

Since January, the city of Baltimore has been under intermittent surveillance from the sky, and the public was never told, according to a report out this week in Bloomberg Businessweek.

“It wasn’t a secret. It wasn’t something that we were intentionally keeping anybody in the dark about,” said Police Commissioner Kevin Davis.

But, Deputy District Public Defender Natalie Finegar tells WJZ, “It certainly was a secret to us. So I’m not sure who it wasn’t a secret for.”

Now, in letters to the state’s attorney and police commissioner the public defender’s office is “requesting that this surveillance program be suspended”.

The program– first uncovered by Bloomberg– records and archives video allowing  investigators to see what happens at a crime scene.

RELATEDBaltimore Police Respond To Report Of Secret Aerial Surveillance Program

Public defenders say there are too many unanswered questions.

“We don’t even know who owns the data,” says Finegar. “Does this private company have the ability to sell this data to other entities? We don’t know the storage of it. How long it it kept?”

The program began in January with the plane filming 300 hours of footage over 32 miles.

“It helped us close a murder. It’s helped us close several nonfatal shootings,” said Davis.

But both the mayor and state’s attorney say they just recently found out about it.

Marilyn Mosby has asked police to turn over a list of dates and times that areas were filmed.

The public defender’s office is now filing discovery motions in all cases that may have been caught on camera.

Police officials tell WJZ the commissioner is drafting a response to the public defender’s letter.

The city council has called for hearings on the aerial surveillance program.

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Comments

One Comment

  1. Slik says:

    As soon as the murder rate drops and people start behaving like human beings, let up on surveillance. Until that, keep it up!

  2. Le says:

    I agree with the first comment.

  3. Jack says:

    We would hate for the information to be used by defense attorneys to protect those accused. It should never be collected as it might harm the prosecution of people who might otherwise be able to verify their alibi. We would also hate to have a picture of the crime as it occurred so that suspects witnesses and other information could be collected and help solve the crime. We would hate for it to known about so that people felt that if they did crime they might actually get caught and therefore might think about it before doing it. Your right the blurry dots are way too intrusive and a total invasion of privacy despite all the information it might provide and the people it may help. We, as the protectors of the civil liberties, do not really care what the people of Baltimore think who have had 344 murders up 74% last year and would have had over a 1000 if the criminals could actually aim and if Baltimore did not have a great shock trama center that saves many many people. We know best. The 91 percent of people in the local paper poll say they are good with it. But again we know best. yea right.

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