L.A. Sheriff's Department Didn't Disclose Massive Surveillance Program, Because People Wouldn't Like It


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Via Techdirt comes the story of the newest toys acquired by the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department (LASD), former war-zone tech that allows "wide area surveillance." Camera systems are attached to civilian airplanes and can capture 10,000 times the area of a police chopper.  The system is provided by a company called Persistent Surveillance Systems that got it start, where else, designing wares for the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Police are excited about having the power to spy from the air in real time, recording video to play back later in order to track the movement of residents in places like Compton. Cops also knew, though, that this new ability of theirs might not play well with the public they still theoretically work for. Techdirt flags this portion of the report by the Center for Investigative Reporting:

"The system was kind of kept confidential from everybody in the public," (LASD Sgt.) Iketani said. "A lot of people do have a problem with the eye in the sky, the Big Brother, so in order to mitigate any of those kinds of complaints, we basically kept it pretty hush-hush."

You know who else had a problem with being monitored? The Los Angeles Police Department, whose officers destroyed equipment attached to their police cars that would record (audio only!) their interactions with residents. The LASD itself, meanwhile, was the recent target of a federal investigation after trying to hide an informant that was going to testify to corruption and excessive force at the department.

Can someone explain to me why Los Angeles needs two police forces? 

h/t From the Tundra