Baltimore Justice Report

OSI-Baltimore Statement on the BPD’s Aerial Surveillance Program

Posted on August 25th, 2016 at 9:08 am
surveillance

Media Advisory
Contact Evan Serpick
410-234-1091

Open Society Institute-Baltimore is deeply troubled by revelations that the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) has been conducting a covert surveillance program in the skies above our city since January. OSI-Baltimore calls for the Baltimore Police Department to come forward with a complete disclosure of the program so that it can be reviewed by the community and experts in civil liberties.

Just days ago, after a Department of Justice investigation found that the BPD routinely violated the Constitution and federal law, OSI-Baltimore, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, BPD officials, and many others talked about the need to build trust between police and communities. The news that the BPD initiated this expansive surveillance program without consulting with the community or even its elected city council has set back the trust-building process considerably.

We understand the BPD’s mandate to protect and serve the citizens of Baltimore, but excessive surveillance and unjustified secrecy threaten civil liberties, damage the public trust, and prevent the building of police-community relationships that are essential to improving public safety. If the BPD hopes to earn public trust, as it says it does, it will need to transform into a more transparent and responsive organization.