Secretive Airborne Police Surveillance in California

Published on Global, by Andrew J. Santos, May 3, 2014.

The revelation concerning a secretive airborne surveillance test in Compton, CA is disturbing. The Los Angeles County Sheriff Department via “Persistent Surveillance Systems”, spied on residents in Compton, CA for nine days in 2012.[1]  

Unlike the mirrored pilot program in Lancaster, CA, the citizens of Compton were unaware of this surveillance because the sheriff department and private contractor kept it hidden. The spying was accomplished by utilizing a Cessna mounted with high resolution cameras.

This technology is from Persistent Surveillance Systems which maintained and recorded a live video feed of the entire city of Compton. According to Persistent Surveillance owner Ross McNutt, this surveillance technology is able to capture 10,000 times the area as compared to a standard police helicopter.[2] That feat is impressive, but that is to be expected as this technology was used militarily in Afghanistan and Iraq to look for terrorists.[3]

The characteristics of this technology begs the question:

why is battlefield technology being used on residents of an American city and without their knowledge?

What has been the response from officials following these revelations? In regards to the surveillance in Compton, Sgt. Iketani of the LASD stated,

“a lot of people have a problem with […] Big Brother, so in order to mitigate any of those kinds of complaints, we basically kept it hush-hush”.[4]

Not only is this official response condescending, but it is also a confession to violating Article 1, Section 1 of the California State Constitution.

The audacity of governmental officials to respond in this fashion is a metaphorical slap in the face to every resident in the city of Compton, as well as to every other American. There was an outcry of privacy violations following the confirmation of the NSA’s mass internet surveillance, known as PRISM[5].

The surveillance of Compton is even more draconian because it goes further than being wiretapped from behind a computer screen. The medium of surveillance can now include aerial surveillance of every movement that an individual makes. This is a strong characteristic of a police-state.

The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution has been blatantly violated under the veneer of a pilot test. Knowing that we are being wiretapped when we are connected to the internet provoked a great backlash from individuals of all political backgrounds, but where is the outrage now? Compton, CA is treated as if it were a battlefield in the Middle-East. For nine days, residents in the city of Compton experienced a fuller effect of the Patriot Act compared to the rest of America. Why was this covert operation executed in the city of Compton? … //

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Glenn Greenwald debates former NSA director Michael Hayden on state surveillance, on Russia Today RT, CMay 2, 2014;

The Ravages of Time, on FreakOnomics/Blog, by Steven D. Levitt, May 1, 2014;

The Ceiling Can’t Hold Us — Low Wage Workers Organize, on United for a Fair Economy, by Brian Miller, April 28, 2014;
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