What you will never see on an episode of Blue Bloods is how America’s largest police force, the New York Police Department (NYPD), tracks people’s sentiments.
A company called Elucd began tracking public sentiment at three major police departments after a 2018, 1 million dollar investment by Omidyar Network and Y Combinator.
A Wired article titled “How a ‘Sentiment Meter’ Helps Cops Understand Their Precincts” explained how some of the largest police departments in the country: the NYPD, the Los Angeles Police Department and the Chicago Police Department were giving police officers monthly “trust scores.”
In April, the NYPD informally introduced its public opinion monitor, also known as the “sentiment meter,” during CompStat, the weekly meetings in which top brass interrogate precinct commanders about crime trends. Precincts now receive a monthly “trust score” along with rankings that measure overall satisfaction with police performance and how safe residents feel.
The article also mentioned how the NYPD co-developed Elucd, a police sentiment company; and that is where this story begins to show signs of localized sentiment surveillance.
A recent VentureBeat article revealed how the NYPD and Elucd have spent $3 million in public funds to collect data from over 250,000 New Yorkers — including 44,185 in 2020.
Elucd uses targeted digital advertising to “send” surveys in English, Spanish, Chinese, and Russian to users on a range of websites and social media platforms, through traditional landline calls, and over 50,000 smartphone apps — including Candy Crush and WeatherBug. The company draws on U.S. Census American Community Service data for statistics on locations and adjusts recipients of its survey to obtain representative samples.
As VentureBeat explained, the NYPD and Elucd can use this information to target specific blocks or buildings that complain about excessive use of force or police harassment.
“Instead of developing this invasive software, the NYPD could have just listened to the countless New Yorkers who demonstrated to defund the police. It’s Orwellian to think of the NYPD building out a map, block by block, of how the public views police. And it’s indefensible for the NYPD to try to hide records about this mass surveillance from the public,” STOP executive director Albert Fox Cahn said.
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S.T.O.P.’s lawsuit warns that law enforcement could use Elucd’s ‘sentiment meter’ to target specific people or worse.
Invasive data collection undermines public trust and safety. By creating a heat map indicating that people in a certain area are distrustful of the police, the NYPD is developing a system that could lead to an increase in unnecessary police stops and interactions, unfair over-policing based on discrimination in these neighborhoods, and the potential for retaliation against people in areas the NYPD, through the Sentiment Meter, deems the enemies of law enforcement—all without any public scrutiny, awareness, or oversight.
Imagine downloading one of the 50,000 apps that post police survey questions on your smartphone. Now imagine being asked to answer a local police survey questionnaire in English, Spanish, Chinese, and Russian once a month.
What happens to people who respond negatively to questions like “Do the police in my neighborhood treat local residents with respect?” and “How safe do you feel in your neighborhood?”
What do you think will happen? Could they be targeted by ICE or local law enforcement for responding negatively?
Don’t forget, Elucd was co-developed by a police department with close ties to FBI and the DHS.
As the Gothamist explains,
Earlier this month, the NYPD claimed that agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation were being stationed in Brooklyn police precincts. According to NY1, it was part of “Operation Safe Streets,” a supposedly new program to allow law enforcement to pursue weapons charges in federal court, avoiding the state’s legal system and recently passed bail reforms.
The NYPD is in so deep with the Feds it will make your stomach turn.
This past July, Newsweek reported that acting DHS Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli called on NYPD officers to join their ranks.
“Come join our team, where you will be appreciated by your political leadership instead of being belittled and treated like you are the problem instead of part of the solution,” Cuccinelli said.
When it comes to police sentiment questionnaires, there is a lot more going on than law enforcement is telling the public.
Why would 15 police departments and city governments use Elucd’s questionnaires to gauge people’s sentiments if they were 100% anonymous? And why would the largest police department in America spend $3 million dollars developing a public sentiment meter company if it could not actually identify and flag individual people or areas?
Hollywood’s disconnect from the reality of what is happening to America’s law enforcement and how they are being turned into government spy agencies is abominable.
Source: MassPrivateI Blog
Top image credit: Marshall Project
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