After the Freddie Gray riots in 2015, Baltimore residents began noticing small planes circling the city. As reporters later uncovered, Baltimore Police had quietly begun using a “wide-area surveillance” system, which deploys Cessna planes to constantly record the movements of an entire metro area. Police never bothered to tell the public they were using the invasive technology, which had been developed by the U.S. Air Force to help soldiers fight in the Middle East.
Now Miami-Dade Police are quietly trying to deploy the same system. In a county document posted online Tuesday, MDPD revealed the force has applied for Department of Justice funds to begin using wide-area surveillance (WAS) tools throughout the county. In a move that echoes Baltimore’s lack of disclosure to the public, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez has already applied for the grant — and the county is now asking commissioners to sign off on the act retroactively at its next meeting June 6.
Civil liberty groups say they have major concerns about police using such a system, especially without telling the public about it.
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