Are Private Companies Color Coding Your House For Law Enforcement?

Anthony Freda Illustration*

By Amanda Warren

People have this false idea of police incompetence. Just the opposite is true – in fact, as I keep saying, it is the training that directs their actions, not the lack thereof. In the last 15 years or so, law enforcement duties have coincided with militarized training, no-hesitation shooting tactics, other higher-up governmental departments and information/surveillance networks. Funding for such surveillance networks and militarized equipment keeps pouring in despite the media finally being allowed to criticize it, but with no real demands for change.

Did you know that private companies are getting in on the action by providing state of the art surveillance technology to provide to law enforcement in real time?

How would you feel to know that you, and in particular, your home address had been painted with a broad stroke brush – a single color that could determine guilt by association?

One investigative writer asks – is this the modern version of the Star of David on the door of Jewish people?

Toledo, Ohio has been somewhat of a testing ground for surveillance and militarized police training. My information of “real time crime centers” first arrived after reading about Toledo’s new roll out of street cameras – a total infestation of surveillance. The residents and business owners did not appreciate having cameras aimed at them, but the city went with it anyway. This was when I first read about the private company providing the product also providing real-time 24/7 management from a different state. Now, the market for such Big Brother gear is growing and the trend is spreading.

It goes like this: federal grants allow for local law enforcement to contract with private companies offering product lines to fight crime and watch for “pre-crime.” The companies encourage departments to get grants or get private funds to get the goods. These companies often offer 24-hour real time help remotely from a distance.

Mass Private I blog reports that Real Time Crime Centers (RTCC) can field all 911 calls field all 911 “and give officers access to any city camera — including police body and dash cameras and new traffic cameras”

From Mass Private I:

“The RTCC center also allows officers to access a massive array of surveillance cameras.”

RTCC’s got [their] start in NYC in 2005. RTCC’s are popping up across the country, they’re in St. Louis, Philadelphia, Boston and Los Angeles.

Any high-priority 911 calls, defined as in-progress or life-threatening crimes, will now be filtered through a database to assess any possible threats an officer may encounter while responding.

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Along with the real time information, these centers have taken the liberty of predetermining the “threat level” of your home to forewarn police in the event they decide to come over or speak with you. The color codes are based on information collection including relatives, friends or other associations and their pasts too!

Additionally, from Mass Private I – emphasis added:

“The database goes through all public information for the call’s location — from arrest records to pizza deliveries — and gives the address a rating. Green means minimal threat, yellow a possible threat and red a major threat.”

“The RTCC system shows officers three pieces of data: the threat level, the criminal history of anyone living at the home and a list of known friends and family members.

This list sometimes includes possible phone numbers and addresses of these associates.”

Reading the source links provided would be highly enlightening. How do you feel knowing that pizza deliveries and other traffic through your home is being collected and doled out to police? How do you feel being “red-flagged” for something that someone else did? And having your friends’ contacts and their visits tracked, passed through a third party and on to law enforcement. We also need to ask how this information is possible (phones?) and how the private companies are able to access it (cellular companies?).

The crux of the problem here is that we are accepting that we are constantly viewed as “threats.” How can we continue to pay for that behavior and rely on it for help from those who are trained to view us something that might warrant eradication? It’s a complete contradiction. Not always, but enough to warrant an activist database in order to keep track of citizen deaths at the hands of police.

The information is all in the favor of law enforcement, companies that profit on Big Brother behavior and the federal government, but with no benefit at all to us. Since this is due to our own ignorance and detriment, maybe it really is time to get better connected with friends and community to call in case of an emergency. And perhaps it’s time to be really brave and reach out to law enforcement too. After all, it closes the gap of wrong perceptions, it humanizes the community again, it provides information to you in order to sense the climate in your area. More information allows you to have a stronger foundation in order to speak to city officials about the problems. When your city tries to tell you how great these real-time crime centers are, demand to see the proof and reject the notion that you must be on camera 24/7 in order to be safe. Reject any rationale for home visits from your friends and pizza deliveries being tracked!

Since this is an act of virtually unregulated law enforcement intertwined with profitable, under-the-radar private information collection networks – it is a bit dizzying at first to think how to address this problem.

Who would you talk to in your city to address this? Definitely let your mayor and city council know that there are other ways of crime prevention that do not include invasive surveillance and having your home predetermined – especially not by something a relative or friend may have done in the past!

*color wheel was superimposed on the image

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