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LASD - Los Angeles County Sheriffs Dept Information Bureau (SIB)
Tuesday April 22nd, 2014 :: 04:46 p.m. PDT


*Press Release*Airborne Surveillance System Tested in 2012 in the City of Compton Deemed Not Suitable for Dept. Needs

Airborne Surveillance System Tested in 2012 over 9 Days in the City of Compton Deemed Not Suitable for Department Needs

In September 2011, Persistent Surveillance System (PSS) and the Hawkeye II Wide Area Airborne Surveillance System offered the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department an opportunity to test the advanced airborne system. After careful review of the parameters for the test operation, the City of Compton was chosen due to the geographic area (10.2 square miles of relatively flat topography) and the fact that the Compton Courthouse is centrally located and offered unimpaired transmission quality due to it being the tallest building in the area. The program began with the installation of equipment (a downlink system on the courthouse roof and a monitoring center inside Compton Sheriff’s Station) and use of an aircraft provided by Persistent Surveillance Systems.

On January 5 and 6, 2012, Compton Station personnel were trained on the operational aspects of the system and on January 7, 2012, the equipment was installed. The system went operational on January 9, 2012, and video footage began to be recorded. The (PSS) aircraft launched out of Long Beach International Airport and was deployed for a six hour period only during daylight hours. The evaluation period was limited to nine days. At the end of the evaluation period (January 17, 2012), Aero Bureau Captain Louis Duran and his staff evaluated the performance of the system.

The evaluation found the system would not enhance the capabilities of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and all equipment was removed by Persistent Surveillance Systems.

Sheriff’s Aero Bureau and Compton Sheriff’s personnel identified a number of challenges that rendered the system ineffective for the Department’s need to enhance public safety and impact criminal activity. The factors included the resolution of the video footage captured did not offer any detail which would allow the identification of any individual. The detail provided would not allow the reviewer of the footage to discern gender, age, race, hair color or any other identifiable features. Another factor was that it was difficult to identify the difference between a sub-compact vehicle and a full sized sports utility vehicle. Another decision not to pursue the use of the system was the fact that the footage could only be captured in black and white.

The Sheriff’s Department did not keep or maintain any of the video footage captured during the short nine day test deployment.

The use of cameras as a law enforcement tool is not a new concept in the City of Compton. The City of Compton has embarked on advanced technology such as the use of video cameras as a surveillance and crime prevention tool in 2007. The first phase of the deployment was in the Gateway Town Center and the cameras were monitored by Compton Sheriff’s Station personnel. The second phase of deployment was initiated in 2011 when twenty cameras were deployed in city parks. These cameras are still operational today and continue to be monitored by city and departmental staff in an effort to keep the community safe.

“Hawkeye II Wide Area Airborne Surveillance System” was simply a system tested and evaluated as an option which would supplement cameras already deployed in the city of Compton. No notification to the residents was made because this system was being tested in a city where cameras were already deployed and the system was only being evaluated. Additionally, the limitation of the system would not allow for the identification of persons or vehicles. The system’s lack of resolution in no way compromised the identity of any individual. The recordings reviewed by Department personnel were found to have no investigative value as discernable detail of gender, race, hair color or any other identifiable feature could not be made.

The Sheriff’s Department utilizes several forms of technology as a tool to provide communities and citizens of Los Angeles County with a safer environment and better quality of life. The Department has used aerial surveillance in the form of helicopters since the 1950’s; beginning with Sky Knight, a program still in use today. The Department is committed to taking advantage of new technology to assist Deputies in the field and improve the service to the communities we serve.

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