BALTIMORE (WJZ) — An aerial surveillance program could return to Baltimore.
The Baltimore Police Department shut down the operation of a surveillance plane in 2016 after public outcry. Some dubbed it a spy plane, a Cessna that flew above Baltimore and recorded video, that could allow police to follow suspects on the ground.
Now, some residents think the program could make criminals think twice.
“It will send a signal that somebody is watching you. A lot of people have problems with the cameras, but there are cameras everywhere we go,” Joyous Jones, a Baltimore resident said.
City police said if citizens approve, the plane could fly again.
City Council has a scheduled hearing for next month. But even the chairman of the Public Safety Committee isn’t convinced the technology works.
“I think the city could use this money to give the police department the basics of technology, but more importantly, we can use the two million dollars or whatever it’s going to cost us to invest in things we know is going to prevent crime,” said Brandon Scott, Baltimore City Council member.
The ACLU said the technology is the “equivalent of having a police officer follow every resident every time he or she exits a building,”
Baltimoreans are no strangers to surveillance. There are more than 700 Citi-Watch cameras.
Attorney Adam Ruther said one’s right to privacy is not always cut and dry.
“If you’re just walking on the street, you don’t really have what the government or the constitutional law talks about as a reasonable expectation of privacy. That’s the real hallmark here, is what the government would do in taking these sorts of surveillance footage an invasion of a reasonable expectation of privacy that anyone in the community has,” Ruther said.
It is not clear how effective this technology is at this time, but police said it has helped to solve at least one crime.
The public hearing will be in October.