Surveillance | St. Louis Public Radio

Surveillance

Surveillance camera alert on South Broadway
Paul Sableman | Flickr

St. Louis aldermen will try again this year to develop policies that control the use of surveillance technology in the city. 

A committee could vote this week on a measure sponsored by Alderman John Collins-Muhammad, D-21st Ward, that requires the director of public safety to draft those policies, which the Board of Aldermen would then approve or reject. Any city agency that wanted to use tools like security cameras or license plate readers would have to submit a plan that fit those guidelines.

Persistence Surveillance Systems originally developed its technology for military use, and now hopes to bring it to St. Louis. This 2013 aerial photo shows the Central West End and Forest Park Southeast neighborhoods in St. Louis. 10/8/19
Paul Sableman | Flickr

Dayton, Ohio-based Persistent Surveillance Systems developed its aerial surveillance system to help the military in Fallujah. The company’s CEO, Ross McNutt, has compared it to “Google Earth, with TiVo capability.” Now a pair of wealthy donors are offering to help St. Louis implement the system and use it for three years without cost. 

McNutt said Tuesday on St. Louis on the Air that he believes the technology could make a big difference in a city that’s struggled with crime.

“We believe this will help major cities reduce their major crime rates dramatically,” he said. “And when you look at the United States, there are two major cities that stand out above all the rest: St. Louis and Baltimore.”

A six-month joint-investigation by the St. Louis American and Type Investigations revealed that the center is operating under a privacy policy that the city acknowledged to community leaders was essentially a rough draft.
St. Louis American

In a dimly lit room that resembles a college lecture hall, some five St. Louis police officers stare at a wall of screens.

They watch through cameras perched on stop lights or lamp posts as people cross intersections or convene at parks. Using controls at their computers, the officers can zoom in to identify people’s faces more than a block away from the cameras.

In this room, the officers monitor about 600 surveillance cameras citywide, as well as license plate reader cameras, sensors that can detect and locate gunfire, and three surveillance trailers that move throughout the city.

Consumer groups claim measures of the Illinois Statehouse could mean the end of traditional landline service. AT&T says it's part of the ongoing shift to modern technology, which is reliable.
tylerdurden1 | Flickr

Updated 9:30 p.m. May 31 - WASHINGTON- The clock has run out on the government’s authority to collect bulk phone records and other information on Americans. The Senate adjourned Sunday night without approving a measure to either extend the existing law or replace it with a House bill containing what advocates said were reforms designed to address concerns over the bulk collection law, first exposed by former National Security Agency employee Edward Snowden.

Paul Sableman | Flickr

Five license plate recognition cameras paid for by the civic booster organization Downtown STL Inc. will be installed in downtown this month.

Missy Kelley, the chief operating officer for the organization formerly known as the Partnership for Downtown St. Louis, would not say where the cameras will be placed, or give an exact date for activation. Downtown STL Inc. spent about $66,000 on the cameras.

(via Flickr/Paul Sableman)

Updated with comments from the ACLU press conference, additional information on cameras, and additional comments from the city.

A new report from the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri finds the city of St. Louis is doing a poor job preserving the privacy rights of residents and visitors as it expands its network of surveillance cameras. 

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: WASHINGTON – While this week's focus is on possible terrorist threats to U.S. installations abroad, Congress -- when it returns next month -- may seek more transparency in government surveillance programs that officials say help deter such terror at home and abroad.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: I was not particularly shocked by Edward Snowden’s revelations that the National Security Agency has been snooping around in our supposedly private communications. Like Thoreau, “I heartily accept the motto, that government is best which governs least,” but I found news of widespread surveillance unsurprising because I’d long assumed it was going on.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 24, 2013: U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., says he remains a critic of the federal Affordable Care Act -- and remains convinced that the measure’s pending health insurance changes could eventually end up reducing the number of Americans with coverage.

Sens. Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., chair a hearing in which problems with background checks were disclosed.
Government photo | St. Louis Beacon | File photo

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 20, 2013: WASHINGTON – In the wake of leaks about secret surveillance programs, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., contended Thursday that the government's process of conducting or contracting out background checks for security clearances is plagued by "limited accountability" and falsified reports.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: It is said that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. If that adage is true, George W. Bush should be feeling rather smug at the moment.

The former president was pilloried by civil libertarians for some of the alacritous executive actions he took to protect the nation in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. He popularized the once arcane term “enemy combatant,” established his own concentration camp at a naval base in Cuba (a.k.a. Gitmo) and authorized “extraordinary rendition” (a.k.a. sending people to countries where they are likely to be tortured) in limited circumstances, though that practice was also terminated on his watch. He championed passage of the Patriot Act and made generous use of the expanded surveillance powers it granted him.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: WASHINGTON -- The extent of phone and internet information collected by intelligence agencies is "troublesome" and should be debated, says U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, who had been briefed on such activities as a longtime member of congressional intelligence panels.

"I actually am concerned by the volume of records the federal government is keeping and future potential uses for those records," Blunt, R-Mo., told reporters Wednesday.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 12, 2013 - WASHINGTON -- The extent of phone and internet information collected by intelligence agencies is "troublesome" and should be debated, says U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, who had been briefed on such activities as a longtime member of congressional intelligence panels.

"I actually am concerned by the volume of records the federal government is keeping and future potential uses for those records," Blunt, R-Mo., told reporters Wednesday.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The typical American citizen could be forgiven for being confused about the seriousness of the disclosure that the National Security Agency is collecting everyone’s telephone data as part of its effort to detect terrorist communications.

From one point of view, the disclosure of the NSA’s big data collection program is one of the most significant security leaks in U.S. history. It a massive invasion of every American’s privacy and proves the existence of the "surveillance state."

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: WASHINGTON – Concerned that government security could compromise individual liberties, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and a few other lawmakers have argued for years that more limits should be placed on the reach of the post-9/11 Patriot Act.

This week, in the wake of what he called “disturbing” revelations of widespread National Security Agency scrutiny of telephone records, Durbin, D-Ill., said, “This important debate must begin again.” In the past, Durbin has sought unsuccessfully to limit such powers.

This story was overseen by Scott Lambert, a professor at Millikin University. It was written and reported by his class that included Allyx Davison,Chelsea Dunmire, Margaret Eby, Ashley Eiland, Andrea Oesch and Denny Patterson.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Jeffrey Sterling, born into a family of seven in Cape Girardeau, seemed to have made it. A top graduate of Millikin University and Washington University Law School, he then went to work as one of the few African-American CIA agents.

(photo courtesy of the Peoria (Ill.) police department)

This fall, the St. Louis police department will be getting help conducting surveillance on problem properties from an armadillo.

No, not the hard-shelled mammals you see scattered on highways in the Southwest.

This Armadillo is a former armored car that's been made bulletproof, given a graffiti-resistant paint job, and outfitted with 360-degree surveillance.

Morning headlines: Friday, April 15, 2011

Apr 15, 2011
(Flickr/ Jason Dunnivant

Ill. Senate Unanimously Approves Legislation Reducing Teacher Job Security

The Illinois Senate has unanimously approved sweeping legislation that would reduce teachers' job security and emphasize performance over seniority. The legislation would make it harder for teachers to achieve tenure. Even after getting tenure, bad teachers could be fired.  If a district has to make layoffs, jobs would be protected based on classroom performance instead of seniority.

McCaskill criticized for FISA vote

Jul 11, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 11, 2008 - Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., has been irritating liberals for months by joining in support of the new law that expands governmental authority to conduct foreign intelligence wiretaps. This week, liberal blogs reacted in dismay as the bill passed with McCaskill's yes vote. One, the KC Blue Blog, ran the picture of Sen. McCaskill presiding over the Senate as the bill passed. Accompanying the photo was the headline, "Claire Collapses in Defense of the Constitution."