Is This Ground Zero For The New Police State?

Police Patrol
"Alrighty boys, we caught it all on camera - are you gonna come quietly?

Under the aegis of public safety, New Orleans police forces are building a modern surveillance infrastructure of video cameras, microphones, facial recognition technology, and license-plate readers. All in a desperate bid to stem the rampant crime within the city.

“We will see you, we will know who you are, we will be able to apprehend you,” Police Superintendent Michael Harrison said in a statement. “We believe that will certainly give us the capacity to build great cases on the back end but it will give us a great deterrence effect on the front end.”

His comment had come during the unveiling of the city’s new Real-Time Crime Monitoring center on Tuesday, according to the news reports. The city leaders in January had announced a public safety improvement plan in response to the increased crime rate, especially in areas that are popular with tourists, the news source reported.

“If you can hear and you can see what’s going on in real time and then you can communicate, and you have people forward then the chances of stopping crime from happening and then apprehending them has increased exponentially,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu said.

The center also features an array of cameras that feed into the video footage from locations across the city. The high-tech software would allow detectives to quickly hunt for people in the footage.

Aaron Miller, New Orleans’ Homeland Security director, told the news reporters that police can request a search video footage for suspects or victims that are wearing a certain color at a certain time, for instance.

The city has already installed “80 surveillance cameras and 32 license-plate readers.” The next several months would also see the installation of an additional 250 cameras and 80 license-plate readers. All of this hardware comes in addition to more than 2,200 cameras that are operated by Project NOLA, a nonprofit organization.

New Orleans media also touted the surveillance system as a much-needed way to ward off different crimes on the rise. They pointed to a November 2016 shooting on the Bourbon Street that had left one man dead and nine other people injured, according to reports.

Other plans also call for a new ordinance that would further require bars to install and maintain security cameras that will feed directly into the system.

The mayor reportedly said that no one should expect any privacy in public areas, especially with today’s technology.

“If you’re out in public it is highly likely in this day and age that you’re going to be filmed by some camera, or somebody holding a phone. I just think that’s the new day and age that we’re in and people should conduct themselves accordingly,” Landrieu had told reporters.

The center will have 24/7 staffing. People, who would be monitoring the surveillance systems include civilian city employees and detectives “on a rotating basis.”

Morgan is a freelance writer for a variety of publications covering popular culture, societal behavior and the political influences of each.