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The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department acknowledged this week that Compton residents were not notified of an airborne video-surveillance program that was tested in 2012.
Sheriff’s Aero Bureau and Compton Sheriff’s personnel identified a number of challenges that rendered the system ineffective for the Department’s need to enhance public safety and impact criminal activity. The factors included the resolution of the video footage captured did not offer any detail which would allow the identification of any individual. The detail provided would not allow the reviewer of the footage to discern gender, age, race, hair color or any other identifiable features. Another factor was that it was difficult to identify the difference between a sub-compact vehicle and a full sized sports utility vehicle. Another decision not to pursue the use of the system was the fact that the footage could only be captured in black and white.
The Sheriff’s Department did not keep or maintain any of the video footage captured during the short nine day test deployment.
“Hawkeye II Wide Area Airborne Surveillance System” was simply a system tested and evaluated as an option which would supplement cameras already deployed in the city of Compton. No notification to the residents was made because this system was being tested in a city where cameras were already deployed and the system was only being evaluated. Additionally, the limitation of the system would not allow for the identification of persons or vehicles. The system’s lack of resolution in no way compromised the identity of any individual. The recordings reviewed by Department personnel were found to have no investigative value as discernable detail of gender, race, hair color or any other identifiable feature could not be made.
The report noted people in Compton had heard little about the surveillance program.
The department said 20 surveillance cameras are deployed in city parks and monitored to help keep the community safe.