Baltimore Police Flies Planes With Cameras

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Baltimore Police Flies Planes With Cameras
Short Title Baltimore Law Enforcement Monitors People in Public in Real Time Through Cameras on Planes
Location Baltimore, United States
Date July 2019

Solove Harm Surveillance, Aggregation
Information Physical Characteristics, Behavioral, Location, Identifying
Threat Actors Law Enforcement

Affected People in public in Baltimore
High Risk Groups
Tangible Harms

Police in Baltimore flew planes with powerful cameras to monitor people in public in real time.


In July 2019 law enforcement in Baltimore were found to be using powerful cameras on the planes flying over the city to monitor people and identify suspects.

From a plane flying overhead, powerful cameras capture aerial images of the entire city. Photos are snapped every second, and the plane can be circling the city for up to 10 hours a day. When a 911 call is received, police relay location information to analysts watching the footage in real time. Those analysts can zoom in just enough to make out the movement of vehicles and people near the scene of a crime. Surveillance

Using time stamps and a lot of mouse-clicks, analysts track the movements of cars and people — which look like pixelated shapes on the screen without any visible identifying features — and can tell police where suspects may have fled.

Officers can then tap into other technologies, like street-level security cameras, to piece together clues. Aggregation

The police department kept the project secret, and it ended abruptly when it was revealed by media reports.


Threat: Law enforcement monitoring people via cameras on planes flying over the city
At-Risk group: People in public in Baltimore
Harm: Surveillance
Secondary Consequences: not known

Threat: Law enforcement combining photos shot from plane cameras with street level security cameras to put together the clues and identify suspects
At-Risk group: People in public in Baltimore
Harm: Aggregation
Secondary Consequences: not known

Laws and Regulations

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