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Report: Police Aerial Surveillance Program Has Promise, Could Use Work

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A new report of Baltimore Police’s once heavily- criticized secret surveillance program shows it has promise, but it could use some work.

The report from the Washington-based Police Foundation is the first real review of the aerial surveillance program that began early last year. It comes as the Baltimore Police Department debates whether or not they’ll move forward with it in the first place, while others remain critical of the program’s benefit.

Officials with the public defender’s office still argue that the program was of no benefit to any of their cases, further questioning their belief its purpose going forward.

For months, no one knew a thing about the privately-funded, undisclosed, surveillance program that Baltimore City Police say they used to help collect leads in a slew of crimes around the city last year.

The pilot program drew heavy criticism, despite police insisting it was never meant to be hidden from the public.

The report says the Police Foundation has no evidence to contradict the BPD’s stance and goes on to say any “perceived lack of candor was simply the result of bureaucratic misunderstanding.”

But the review also notes the difficulty in determining the value of the program. On Monday, Baltimore’s top cop weighed in on the findings

“I think it postures not only BPD but American law enforcement to explore the use of this investigative tool to help solve crimes,” says Baltimore City Police Commissioner Kevin Davis.

Others argue the report doesn’t do enough to justify the surveillance program’s continuation, mainly because it calls for more rigorous evaluation.

“I’m not sure what this report did for us at all in terms of giving us any clarification what the feasibility of this program would be and what the cost benefit wold be.”

However, the foundation did find the program does have the potential to help solve more crimes and reduce the cost of criminal investigations.

Also, in the review, 10 recommendations BPD should follow if they decide to continue the program. At the top of the list public education, data storage, and training”

Commissioner Kevin Davis says whether or not that happens is yet to be seen and stands by the report’s findings.

“This technology has value, this technology represents a way to police differently in the future,” he says.

Police say they are still combing through the comprehensive report and make a decision about the program’s future at a later date

To read the full report from the Police Foundation CLICK HERE.

More from George Solis
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