Baltimore surveillance plane operator had urged police to be upfront with public

Wednesday, 13 September 2017, 04:02:44 PM. The company operating an aerial surveillance program for the Baltimore Police Department this year had recommended before the first plane left the ground that the department conduct focus groups and other outreach efforts to gauge community acceptance and concerns.
Before the first plane left the ground, the company operating an aerial surveillance program for the Baltimore Police Department recommended that the department conduct focus groups and other outreach efforts to gauge community acceptance and concerns. But the department did not hold any such meetings. By the time the program was revealed publicly a year later, in August, it had collected more than 300 hours of surveillance footage secretly over eight months and police still were trying to figure out how to inform the community, according to emails obtained Thursday by The Baltimore Sun through a public records request. The Ohio-based company, Persistent Surveillance Systems, had included concerns about public acceptance of the program and the need to brief residents on its capabilities from the start of its communications with police, according to the records. The company was eager to begin, but was upfront about potential problems. "There are many areas to consider including the ability to obtain approval from police and city leadership and the likely community reaction," wrote Ross McNutt, the company's president, in an Aug. 4, 2015, email to Lt. Sam Hood, head of the Police Department's CitiWatch program. "We have had trouble getting leadership decisions because of the potential controversy. The community acceptance would be a significant part of the evaluation." Yvonne Wenger It wasn't until media reports on aerial surveillance by the Baltimore Police Department...Read more
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