St. Louis Considers Spy Planes to Survey the City 18 Hours a Day

A proposal to use so-called “spy planes” over St. Louis is met with fierce opposition from city residents and activists – but local politicians, despite privacy and civil liberties concerns, can still approve it when the bill comes to the vote this week.

First introduced by Alderman Tom Oldenburg in December 2020 Board Bill 200 would enable the St. Louis Police Department to use the surveillance technology provided by the company Persistent monitoring systems Capture aerial photography of the entire city for up to 18 hours a day with the declared aim of reducing crime.

The Bill passed committee on January 5th and January 22nd it was “perfected“- that is, there will be no further changes – through a close vote of 15-14 in the city’s Board of Aldermen. The narrow margin reflects the controversial nature of the program.

On Friday, February 5th, the bill will go to the final vote. If the board removes the legislation from the agenda, it has until the end of April to pass it. If not, the bill must be reintroduced in the next meeting.

After the close vote on the “perfecting” of the bill Alder Woman Megan E. Green, an outspoken critic of the program, expressed confidence that the city’s progressive wing could cast at least one yes vote and reject the bill. “There have been a number of directors,” Green said, “who have received quite a significant setback from their constituencies for voting on this bill.”

green believes More needs to be discussed about such a monumental undertaking for the future of the city. “If we’re ready to give away our residents’ privacy rights, this should be a pretty solid discussion for me with a lot of community engagement,” said Green The nation. “And that didn’t happen here.”

Critics of the program oppose the way PSS technology has been used in other communities – Baltimore, Md., And Compton, California – to target marginalized communities and violate the civil rights of city dwellers. Representative Cori Bush, who represents St. Louis and much of northern St. Louis County, said The nation in an email that the program, which she said was “actively harming our communities,” will have dire consequences for the city.


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