Aerial Surveillance System Scrapped in Miami-Dade County: ACLU

A massive aerial surveillance program that would film and capture photos of civilians for up to 32 square miles has been halted in Miami-Dade County, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

The blanket surveillance system was proposed in early June, according to multiple media reports. The system, modeled after a similar surveillance program in Baltimore, would deploy planes over high-crime areas in Miami to help police officers obtain footage of crimes and possible perpetrators. Known as the “Wide Area Surveillance” program, the elaborate system was first used during the Iraq War, according to the Miami Herald.

Mayor Carlos Gimenez sought federal grant money in order to enable the system on June 1, according to the Miami New Times. The ACLU spoke out against the move, saying:

“This is not the way to adopt public policy – no system of surveillance should be put into place until it is first established that there is a need which this system addresses, and that there are protections in place for the privacy of the people of Miami-Dade County.”

After public backlash and privacy concerns, the grant proposal has been retracted. Juan Perez, director of the Miami-Dade Police Department, told the Herald he’d “rather maintain positive community relations.”

The proposal was scrapped on Tuesday, according to the ACLU. 

"We are grateful to everyone in the community who spoke out about their concerns with this proposed mass surveillance system, and to Director Perez for hearing those concerns," the organization said. 

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