• Privacy

Police sanctioned Citizen Patrols or Neighborhood Watch groups are being used to identify suspicious looking people.

A recent article in The Washington Post revealed that the city of Cave Junction plans on purchasing eight CCTV surveillance cameras to look for hardcore criminals.

“Last month, members of the Cave Junction City Council voted unanimously to try a new experiment in policing: Installing security cameras that will be monitored by a volunteer citizen patrol.”

One would be hard-pressed to find a more disturbing trend than Citizen Patrols or Neighborhood Watch groups whose primary function is to monitor the public.

CJ Patrol a private Citizens Patrol group claims that they can identify “hardcore criminals” just by looking at them.

“They can identify them by the way that they dress, because they have a certain apparel that they wear all the time, or the way they walk,” she told the station. “Sometimes they carry things all the time, it could be something as simple as a skateboard. They have learned how to identify these people very, very quickly, then they know how to respond.”

Despite what you have been told, skateboarding is not a crime unless they are talking about Norway’s skateboarders who defied an 11-year ban from the 1970s-1980s.

Police Departments across the country are using citizens and robots to monitor the public.

The Newark Police Department’s “CommUNITY & COPS” program uses citizens to monitor more than 300 hundred public CCTV cameras. And the Huntington Park Police Department uses Knightscope’s Robocops to label someone as a person of interest for things like being a “sketchy dude or someone that likes to cause trouble.”

CBS Channel 2 called Newark’s “Citizens Virtual Patrol” a block watch on steroids,

“A network of surveillance cameras around Newark will soon let people watch various locations in what local leaders are calling “a block watch on steroids” against criminal activity.”

Police departments across the country are also using Amazon’s Ring doorbells to monitor the public.

A recent Gizmodo investigation revealed that police use Ring doorbells to monitor entire neighborhoods, creating a sprawling home surveillance network.

“Gizmodo has acquired data over the past month connected to nearly 65,800 individual posts shared by users of the Neighbors app. The posts, which reach back 500 days from the point of collection, offer extraordinary insight into the proliferation of Ring video surveillance across American neighborhoods.”

What the investigation found was that in 15 U.S. cities, police use thousands of Ring cameras to monitor children and teens with“…’no values’ ripping up parking tape, riding on their ‘dort-bikes’ [sic] and taking ‘selfies’.” Gizmodo also found that Ring cameras were being used to target people of color.

The investigation warned, that it is way too easy for law enforcement to get around our privacy laws because it is “being done technologically, silently and invisibly.”

When a so-called Citizen’s Patrol, Robocop, or a Ring neighbor labels someone “suspicious” it doesn’t just get forwarded to the police. It gets sent to Fusion Centers as a Suspicious Activity Report and that’s where things really take a turn for the worse.

Fusion Centers have investigated suspicious people because of their anti-government views or because an 86-year-old man took pictures of rainbow art on a gas tank. As James Bovard said, “fusion centers do a far better job of stoking paranoia than of catching terrorists.”

With crime levels across the country at historic-lows, how does anyone justify Robocops, Citizens Patrols, or Ring Doorbell surveillance networks?

As Tsinghua Law Professor Lao Dongyan said, “the hysterical pursuit of security has brought to society not security at all, but complete suppression and panic.” She went on to say, “that living in this society, I often feel that I am not trusted.” 

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