Friday, November 06, 2020

Federal appeals court finds Baltimore's surveillance plane program is constitutional

BALTIMORE, Maryland (WBFF) - A panel of federal court of appeals judges ruled this week that Baltimore's controversial aerial surveillance plane program is in fact constitutional.

The three judge panel, which ruled 2-1, found that the plane does help police combat crime without violating resident's right to privacy.

In the opinion, judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III wrote: “In addition to not infringing a reasonable expectation of privacy, the AIR program seeks to meet a serious law enforcement need without unduly burdening constitutional rights."

The lawsuit was originally filed by a local activist group back in June and the ACLU of Maryland later took on the case.

The groups hoped to ground the surveillance plane, which was flying under a 6-month pilot program, citing privacy and constitutional concerns.

In a statement, the ALCU of Maryland wrote that they were disappointed in the court's ruling:

"We and our clients are extremely disappointed by the court’s decision failing to put a stop to this invasive surveillance technology. Because of this decision, this kind of aerial surveillance could become a chilling, all-seeing part of daily life across the country. And as the dissent pointed out, this oppressive surveillance is likely to fall on exactly the kinds of minority communities who have suffered under decades of segregationist and exclusionary policy and policing. This technology presents a society-changing threat to everyone’s right to privacy, and it must be stopped.”

Despite this weeks ruling, the planes future remains up in the air after the pilot program ended last week.

Community Support Program, which operated the plane in conjunction with Baltimore Police, cited recent data that shows the plane assisted in solving at least 7 homicides during the pilot.

"It doesn't make any sense to me that a program, which is designed to help officers solve the crimes that are wreaking havoc on certain parts of this city, because of politics we're going to end this program," Marshall Bell with the program said.

City Council President and Baltimore's Mayor-elect Brandon Scott has been an outspoken critic of the plane. He told FOX45 News last week that he doesn't believe the plane helps fight crime but says he looks forward to fully evaluating the pilot program.

"We're talking about a city where most of the violence happens at night and it's a plane that doesn't work at night, period," Scott said.

However, just yesterday there were two daytime shootings in Baltimore.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.