In order to sweeten the pot of federalization, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is giving gifts of expensive gadgets to local police forces.
Cops in North Jersey, for example, were showered with gifts from their would-be overseers. As reported by The Record:
Oradell, Emerson, Closter and Harrington Park police have car-mounted night-vision technology and video and recording equipment that can watch over the Oradell Reservoir and dam — and the hikers and anglers entering it. West Milford can do the same around the Newark watershed. Wayne police are scanning ... the license plates of vehicles outside the Willowbrook Mall, while East Rutherford officers patrol hotel parking lots near the Meadowlands and the Federal Reserve building off Route 17.
How is all this new technology being used? Who is being watched? Why are they being targeted for surveillance? Neither law enforcement nor federal agents are talking.
When contacted by The New American, the DHS representative in New Jersey refused to answer these questions, saying that revealing what information is being collected, how long it will be stored, or who will have access to it would threaten national security. Of course.
The web of surveillance being woven by the Department of Homeland Security among local law enforcement agencies is part of the secretive effort known as the Buffer Zone Protection Program. According to DHS:
The Buffer Zone Protection Program (BZPP) is a Department-administered infrastructure protection grant program to help local law enforcement and first responders identify and mitigate vulnerabilities at the highest-risk critical infrastructure sites. A buffer zone is the area outside a facility that an adversary can use to conduct surveillance or launch an attack. The term is associated with identified critical infrastructure and key resources (CIKR).
BZPP provides funding to local law enforcement for equipment acquisition and planning activities to address gaps and enhance security capabilities. The program brings together private sector security personnel and first responders in a collaborative security planning process that enhances the buffer zone.
Local police who participate in the program will have access to a shockingly broad array of personal information of citizens. Facial recognition technology, license plate readers, and stop light camera video feeds will all be funneled to a Regional Operations Intelligence Center where FBI, police, and DHS agents can watch the live feeds. These hubs are part of a larger operations complex known as a Fusion Center.
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Photo of a Fusion Center: AP Images