The latest installment of the Baltimore spy plane saga as reported by Kevin Rector raises numerous questions. The overarching mystery is why an experiment in the domestication of military surveillance that began in controversy three years ago and continues to be sharply divisive today has found such ardent proponents among certain segments of the city’s leadership, notably members of the Greater Baltimore Committee and the Abell Foundation (“Aerial surveillance is not the answer to Baltimore’s crime problem,” Oct. 14).
What would lead the Abell Foundation to pay $40,000 for a public opinion poll aimed at boosting this project when both the police commissioner and the city council president have expressed views that range from indifference to deep skepticism? What, precisely, is the justification for directing $6.5 million in philanthropic funding to a three-year “free trial” of a technology nobody outside of a small set of boosters seems to want? The whole thing smells so strongly of inside baseball that it’s hard not to want to go digging after a conspiracy.
The fact of the matter is that the public doesn’t need to know the sordid details of the machinations keeping this boondoggle on life support to make up its mind about how the city should proceed. Whether now or three years from now, we cannot afford to gamble our city’s precious resources on this unproven technology. What’s more, the very notion that more policing in any form is going to solve the city’s violence problem is a theory that’s been debunked by decades of lost “wars on crime.”
The spy plane is a bad idea. We don’t need to know why anyone would say differently to know they’re wrong.
Jake Carlo, Baltimore
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