Why Is Homeland Security Paying to Put Cities Under Surveillance?

By:  Joe Wolverton, II, J.D.
03/31/2014
       
Why Is Homeland Security Paying to Put Cities Under Surveillance?

Every day, scores of local police departments use DHS grant money to deploy sophisticated surveillance equipment.

The drive to use of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) grants to convert local law enforcement into heavily armed battalions of a nationwide standing army under the command of federal officers marches on.

A quick survey of some of the police departments being outfitted by the federal government will expose the extent of the coast to coast effort to obliterate local accountability of law enforcement and to make those officers dependent on the largesse of their federal benefactors.

First, the Santa Monica, California, Police Department received nearly $800,000 from DHS days ago. A March 28 Santa Monica Mirror story on the “donation” reveals the earmarks for the funds.

Officially approved as part of the City Council’s consent calendar agenda at its Tuesday meeting, the grant money would, according to City staff, be used “to purchase equipment and training that supports regional homeland security goals.”...

“Funds were requested to purchase equipment and training that supports regional homeland security goals, specifically an automated license plate reading system for the Police Department, terrorism liaison officer training, hazardous material (HazMat) training and equipment, urban search and rescue (USAR) training and equipment and chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive (CBRNE) training and equipment for the Fire Department,” City staff stated.

Notice the mention made of surveillance equipment (license plate tracking system), terrorism, and urban riot preparedness. Hardly the bailiwick of a local police department.

Next, the headline of a story out of Wisconsin is enough to invoke the ire of constitutionalists in the Badger State: “State cops can track residents' cellphones.”

The story under that headline, from the Fond du Lac Reporter, demonstrates the immense capacity of cops to violate the Fourth Amendment:

Police in Wisconsin have at least two devices that secretly track cellphone locations in real time to target suspects or missing persons — technology that simultaneously mines data from hundreds or thousands of unsuspecting people nearby.

Such sophisticated surveillance equipment doesn’t come cheap. The Reporter writes:

The suitcase-sized Stingray masquerades as a cell tower to trick cellphones into connecting to it. It can show police phones within a mile or more, depending on terrain. Records show the DOJ Stingray cost more than $150,000, and the DOJ and Milwaukee police both purchased upgrade packages that topped $100,000.

In fairness, it’s not just Wisconsin law enforcement using this technology to track citizens. As noted by the Reporter:

Click here to read the entire article.

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