LA County Sheriff's Department Hid Massive Surveillance System From the Public, Because they Suspected that the Public Wouldn't Like It

Maybe it’s the fact that a corrupt county sheriff just pleaded guilty to the least of the crimes he committed, but the idea of a law enforcement agency having the power of persistent surveillance over huge swaths of land and population is extremely disturbing. In the case of Hidalgo County, I’ve only reported a small part of the full story here. My source received credible threats over the course of about three years. On one trip to the county, we were tailed. I was driving a rental car on an unannounced trip — we were tailed because someone was keeping tabs on my source. This was all done, as far as we can tell, by people who answered to Sheriff Trevino, for the purpose of intimidating citizens to keep them quiet.

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Now, imagine what he could have done with a system like the LA County surveillance system.

The system, known as wide-area surveillance, is something of a time machine – the entire city is filmed and recorded in real time. Imagine Google Earth with a rewind button and the ability to play back the movement of cars and people as they scurry about the city.

“We literally watched all of Compton during the time that we were flying, so we could zoom in anywhere within the city of Compton and follow cars and see people,” [Ross] McNutt [owner of Persistent Surveillance Systems] said. “Our goal was to basically jump to where reported crimes occurred and see what information we could generate that would help investigators solve the crimes.”

Right. And in the wrong hands, that system is not a crime fighter. It’s a tool of serious oppression.

The LA County Sheriff’s Department may or not be the wrong hands as in Hidalgo County, but they behaved as if they can’t and shouldn’t be trusted.

“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.”

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That’s just great.

h/t Instapundit, Ace

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