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Baltimore Police Aerial Investigation Pilot Program Launches Friday

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison says the surveillance plane program will begin in the city on Friday.

The program was approved by the Board of Estimates in March, and a federal judge cleared the program after area activists tried to stop it with an injunction.

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 technology was secretly tested in Baltimore in 2016. Residents and top city officials were unaware of the police-approved test until the media revealed it.

The department said the program will be active for up to 180 days and focus on murders, non-fatal shootings, armed robberies and car-jackings. It will be reviewed by independent civilian auditors to "ensure that the program is only being used for its intended purpose,"

They claim the data will only be used for the purposes related to the criminal investigation, while all other unanalyzed data will be stored for 45 days.

"I take very seriously the utilization of every tool available to address the unacceptable levels of violence in our communities," said Commissioner Michael Harrison. "I remain cautiously optimistic about the potential of this program and will allow the data to show us the efficacy of this technology as a potential tool for the Department in solving and reducing violent crime,"

Information about the program and its operations can be found on BPD's website, here.

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