Compton Secret Surveillance Blasted, Called 'Invasion of Privacy'

Friday, 25 Apr 2014 11:00 AM

By Alexandra Ward

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City residents blasted Compton's secret surveillance program this week, calling the aerial spying an "invasion of privacy."

It was revealed this week that, for a nine-week period in early 2012, the city in California partnered with the Ohio-based Persistent Surveillance Systems to deploy aerial surveillance coverage of the 10.1-square-mile city, according to a report by the Center for Investigative Reporting.

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Using a small Cessna plane and a dozen industrial imaging cameras, Persistent Surveillance recorded video images and fed them to the sheriff's department, where officials reportedly observed car accidents, a handful of robberies, and even a shooting, according to the Los Angeles Times.

"A lot of people do have a problem with the eye in the sky, the Big Brother," Compton Sgt. Doug Iketani was quoted as saying in the CIR report. "So in order to mitigate any of those kinds of complaints, we basically kept it pretty hush-hush."

Officials maintained that they only used the video images to focus in on specific locations where a known crime had occurred.

"We start from reported crime scenes. That is the only way we get involved," Ross T. McNutt, president of Persistent Surveillance Systems, said in the report. "So, if there is a home invasion robbery or a homicide, we look for people who are fleeing. Often, we can catch up to them in real time. We can find a house they fled to or a house they came from in the first place."

Even though Compton already has about 15 video cameras installed in public parks throughout the city, residents were outraged at the news of the secret aerial surveillance.

"Why are we the target?" resident Ellen Harris, 67, asked the Times. "As citizens we deserve [to know]. We are not all criminals . . . It’s an invasion of privacy."

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