Surveillance planes in Baltimore

Surveillance aircraft anxiously hover over west Baltimore in the wake of Baltimore’s Freddy Gray riots.

What would ordinarily go unnoticed in one’s typical, mundane day has transformed into a concern which now has earned the attention of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU):  The discovery of surveillance aircraft likely operated with the cooperation of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).  The aircraft, registered to NG Research in Bristow, Virginia, conducted flights over areas in Baltimore on Thursday, Friday and Saturday of last week in the aftermath of anti-police riots

According to interested parties who verified the flights through the website, Flightradar24.com, the Washington Post wrote:  (the aircraft) “Showed a continuous, circling path that appeared to have its center directly above the intersection of Pennsylvania and North avenues, where the most violent unrest was centered after Gray’s funeral on April 27.”

Although the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) declined to comment on the sightings of surveillance planes in Baltimore,

The flights were aerial support that Baltimore police officials requested from the FBI. The planes used infrared technology to monitor movements of people in the vicinity,” an unnamed government official told the Washington Post.

Have we surpassed steroid-level police tactics?

Undoubtedly, this show is likely to provoke bitter conversation across the political spectrum.  For critics of expanded domestic surveillance, this is an insidiously corrupting program, an unnecessary encroachment in the public domain, a dishonest and dangerous pursuit of crime prevention, and will hardly be greeted with approbation from civil libertarians.  On the contrary, for defenders of these flights, this is a union of local and federal law enforcement displaying angelic kindness, a symbol of law and order to counter a release of anger, a necessary response to the alarming developments in Baltimore and an enlightened and progressive policing tactic bonding with, and granting security to those who submit to established civil and criminal law.

While numerous Americans approve of surveillance on foreign nations, they are leery of infringements in their own backyard.  Whether this is interpreted as a crafty monitoring of the population or a necessary policing step to parry rioters who betrayed the system, at minimum, it is likely to spur rich debate and resurrect conversations about Big Brother.

[WashingtonPost] [flightradar24.com]