Federal Grants Enable Increased Surveillance by Local Gov't

By:  Joe Wolverton, II, J.D.
Federal Grants Enable Increased Surveillance by Local Gov't

The federal government is awarding multi-million dollar grants to local governments to help them purchase high-tech surveillance equipment.

Not content to let the feds have all the fun, local governments are increasing their surveillance of citizens.

An article published in the Sunday New York Times reports that federal money is being doled out to cities to enable local law enforcement to “collect and analyze reams of surveillance data from around town.”

Oakland, for example, reportedly received a $7-million federal grant ostensibly earmarked to help the coastal town “thwart terrorist attacks.” Once in the bank, city managers spent the money on a variety of surveillance apparatuses including everything “from gunshot-detection sensors in the barrios of East Oakland to license plate readers mounted on police cars patrolling the city’s upscale hills.”

For years, this reporter has covered the increasing dependency of local law enforcement on federal largesse and the regular disposal of federal funds on bolstering the surveillance infrastructure of the beneficiary towns.

All along the storied Las Vegas Strip, 37 surveillance cameras watch and record every movement.

Such an expensive purchase might surprise citizens of Sin City given that the Metropolitan Police Department is in the middle of a hiring freeze and has laid off dozens of officers all over the city. 

The effects of the deep budget cuts will likely continue to be felt. The Las Vegas Sun reports, “The outlook only threatens to worsen, with Metro facing a $30 million budget deficit that could require it to shed as many as 250 additional officer positions over the next several years.”

Homeland Security has deep pockets, though, and the federal government loves using largesse to co-opt control of local law enforcement.

The Las Vegas Police Department received $300,000 from the federal Department of Homeland Security. This generous grant paid for the cameras and the sophisticated surveillance software that powers them.

Before the DHS carrot and stick appeared, there were only eight cameras covering the area now under expanded surveillance.

Click here to read the entire article. 

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