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Baltimore City Board Of Estimates Votes In Favor Of Contract To Launch Surveillance Plane Pilot Program

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- The Baltimore Board of Estimates voted in favor Wednesday of a contract to launch a second aerial surveillance pilot program in the city between BPD and Persistent Surveillance Systems, to allow several surveillance planes to fly over the city.

City Council President Brandon Scott had made a motion to defer the vote saying the panel should wait until the stay-at-home order has been lifted. When it still came to a vote he and Baltimore City Comptroller Joan Pratt both voted no.

Mayor Jack Young and his two appointed members of the board, Acting Public Works Director Matthew Garbark and City Solicitor Dana Moore, rejected the move to defer and voted to approve the program.

Baltimore's police commissioner Michael Harrison announced the new pilot program in December 2019, where three surveillance planes will be flying over the city starting in May to test whether they can cut down on violence.

The planes will take video of 90 percent of the city.

Back in December, the commissioner said the aircrafts will only be used to help with murder, shooting and carjacking cases, but did not say why other cases involving serious crimes including rape and police misconduct weren't a part of the program. He did say if it was successful, the mission for the planes could expand.

A surveillance plane was in Baltimore skies in 2016, angering local officials because it had been flown in secret.

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