LA Sheriff's bizarre Compton surveillance


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I’m guessing a real estate survey.

Sweet, full 4th amendment breech…

Kyllo vs. United States

Under a balanced reading of Kyllo, government use of a UAV to reveal “details of the home that would previously have been unknowable without physical intrusion” would be unconstitutional today. Ten years from now, when UAVs will be common, that still may be the case – but that conclusion will need to come from a ruling other than Kyllo.


A friend’s parents in a neighboring city to Compton were greeted by what they described as a SWAT team one day… It was a crack-down on building/etc modifications for which a permit had not been obtained from the city. There had been an aerial survey which was then compared to plans on record with the city. I guess that his parents had a back patio that was converted to a room back in the 80’s.


Nothing especially nefarious, I’m guessing, just someone high up sending $X out to the surveillance company for some half-assed project and getting $Y back under the table in return for the business. If it was something vaguely plausible like antiterrorism training or a robot equipped with teargas it wouldn’t have gotten noticed.


If non-permitted construction starts a wildfire that burns 3000 acres and costs the taxpayers nine million to put out (as happened near my town a few years back), yeah, I might go along with the county doing aerial surveys.

The fires in compton don’t tend to be forest fires. But you know this.


“most of LA County is flat”?

Um, maybe they should take a look at which parts of LA County LACoSD patrols - I mean, yeah, they cover large swathes of the Mojave Desert, and that’s mostly flat, it’s true - but it makes for a boring persistent-surveillance test-case.

Much of the developed flatland on the oceanward side of the San Gabriels (themselves a decidedly non-flat part of the County) is incorporated cities that have their own PDs. Much of the unincorporated remainder that LACoSD patrols is also decidedly non-flat.

LACoSD provides the incorporated flatland city of Compton with police services by contract. They do the same for other cities like West Hollywood - but I imagine WeHo municipal officials would not exactly be amenable to such a request (as I’m sure LaCoSD is well aware).

So Compton it is.

(The flatness of the LA area is greatly exaggerated. In the City of LA alone, a total area three times the size of San Francisco is subject to the Hillside Brush Fire Ordinance, which only applies to steep areas - though not the sort of low rolling fossil dunes that San Franciscans call ‘hills’.)

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It’s not bizarre, it’s a stepping-stone to being very clever.

Journalists also pointed out the videotaping:
1: Is too low-resoltuion to identify anyone, so…
2: it’s worthless as evidence, and…
3: The video wasn’t real-time so police wouldn’t catch anyone in the act

Journalists are morons. You don’t need resolution to identify people because this thing is a fucking time machine. Want to know who that particular (supposedly unidentifiable) blob is? Rewind their day until that blob steps out of their car, then rewind their car until it drives out of their garage at home. You have their address and a name and it was trivial. Software could be set up to automate it. Or wind time forward. Find out where they go, work, hang out, who they meet, who they associate with, learn their routines, etc.
This aerial surveillance approach could identify everyone and track everyone everywhere they go, every day, always. It sounds like this instance was a technology R&D test working towards that holy grail of the universal surveillance time-machine.
In the future it won’t be a Cesna overhead, it’ll be similar to the geo-stationary balloons that ISPs are developing to be permanent infrastructure in the skies.


To see if they could, without being noticed.


Well, you know, you’ve gotta keep an eye on those people. They’re so dark, it is impossible to trust them.

Perhaps Compton should invest in some antiaircraft artillery.

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Begun the drone wars have…


“So what, exactly, was the point of this expensive program?”

To justify funding for more and better cameras.


I keep thinking:

Don’t they know that “1984” wasn’t supposed to be some sort of instruction manual?

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Because terror!

Cash starved municipalities wanting their share. Can’t really blame them for trying… but we can argue about the techniques. City should give a blanket warning that they’ll be doing such a thing and enforcing their findings. Mediation and lowered fines depending on the severity and age of the modifications.


Direct hit, Cap’n!

Blew it wide open, from the fucking time machine to the geo-stationary balloons to the the holy grail of universal surveillance.

I joke a bit, because these things make me sad and queasy. Because it’s a new heap of heavy truth, striking my head like a falling bank safe.

Not heard to imagine what cool, in a yay for the panopticon way, stuff you might do with this. Try to identify which corners are being used for black market trading on various days so they could be targeted for better surveillance? Identify which intersections most needed traffic modification (except that that would be the traffic dept). Oh maybe set traffic enforcement spots?

Yes, definitely needs to be done, but done properly… Just last week there was a fire in an illegally converted garage in L.A. that I think killed two and injured a fireman.
My friend’s parents are from an elderly immigrant population and it sounded like the officials handling the situation were complete @$$^!($…

Why does it ‘need’ to be done? Because of a real public safety hazard? or because of a perception of a nosed thumb being given to authority?

Your example of a swat-like raid on an unpermitted spare room seems like exactly the sort of thing that shows a program has already gone altogether too far. What is the public good there?

I fail to see how surveillance is any deterrence. The police already hand pick their arrestees… it’s not like there is a shortage of crime in the world… enforcement choices should be driven by public benefit, not ease of deployment or personal preferences. My point is this: who did more damage to the US economy, Bernie Madoff or every criminal in Compton collectively? Ok, who was targeted for more surveillance? How many resources are devoted to street v. white collar crime?

I mean, once you find a barrel, everything looks like a duck.

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