We are pretty familiar with the lyrics to “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” first recorded in 1934. “He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake. He knows when you’ve been bad or good…” In today’s society some find those lyrics are just a little creepy. And rightfully so for many children until they learn that the stranger the lyrics speak of is none other than their parents, their protectors. But what if there is a stranger watching your every move? Whether it’s “Big Brother” as depicted in Orwell’s “1984” or Sheriff Mark Garber of Lafayette Parish in 2022, is it any less alarming?
According to recent reports from both the Advertiser and the Advocate, so-called media outlets, the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office has been operating its “Real Time Crime Center” for around six months. The concept allegedly began four years ago and has been in active development for approximately eighteen months. And at present the center is reported to have access to about 1,700 cameras and is operating at around 15 – 20% of its full capability with a planned expansion to incorporate up to 2,000 cameras.
In reality the concept dates back to before Garber was even elected Sheriff of Lafayette Parish. During the 2015 campaign for Lafayette Parish Sheriff Garber spoke of his vision of developing a “Fusion Center” in Lafayette Parish. That same year there was much criticism over warrantless surveillance of American citizens. Judge Andrew Napolitano speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) hosted by the American Conservative Union stated “If there is no outrage the government will continue to do it.”
All of this followed a 2012 U.S. Senate sub-committee report titled “Federal Support for and Involvement in State and Local Fusion Centers“. Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma commenting on fusion centers indicated that “they have too often wasted money and stepped on Americans’ civil liberties.”
Are you skeptical?
Commenting on the skepticism of residents regarding such a large government spying apparatus, Captain Jack Lightfoot indicated that the LPSO has “access” to video feeds and “copies of full video feeds and non-relevant footage are not stored at the sheriff’s office in any form.” But is someone else storing the information? That is a possibility considering the number of public-private (fascist) partnerships and inter-agency sharing of information already occurring in other systems.
But don’t worry… Lightfoot said there is strict access and audits of the sensitive information to ensure the deputies are not misusing the information. What could possibly go wrong when the government is left in control of policing itself without oversight?
Lightfoot also mentioned beta testing systems such as Command Central Aware from Motorola Solutions. According to Motorola Solutions Command Central Aware “integrates streaming video, real-time alerts, advanced data analytics, resource tracking, social media analytics, voice, Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD), records information and more into a single, intuitive interface with layered geospatial mapping.”
Is Lafayette going to be part of the police cam-share programs?
There were at least 36 different types of police cam-share programs in existence in 2018 with the common goal of warrantless sharing of business and homeowner surveillance camera footage with law enforcement agencies. One such public-private partnership is already in operation in New Orleans, Project NOLA National Crime Camera Program. That system went online in 2017, having more than 2,500 cameras in use. Has there been any improvement in crime during that period of time? No! Quite the contrary.
More recently the Atlanta Police Department announced the opening of its own “Real Time Crime Center” featuring over 4,500 cameras in its surveillance network which can be accessed on mobile devices such as cellphones, tablets and laptops. That number is likely underestimated considering just three years ago they reported access to over 11,000 surveillance cameras and now predict access to over 30,000 cameras in the near future. In comparison, the city of Atlanta has a population of approximately 532,695 inhabitants and New Orleans 387,564 inhabitants versus the 241,753 inhabitants of the entire parish of Lafayette. Lafayette is already utilizing the services of Flock Safety based out of Atlanta, Georgia.
Innocent people have “nothing to hide”
A common repeated phrase is that if don’t have “nothing to hide” then you shouldn’t have any concern about being under constant surveillance. The fact is whether you have anything to hide or not privacy is a fundamental aspect of liberty in a free society!
Being concerned with how invasive the sharing of tens of thousands of surveillance cameras and other devices such as automated license plate readers, Stingrays, gunshot detectors, surveillance enabled lightbulbs, etc. doesn’t make you a paranoid nut. If you don’t have concerns about the far-reaching implications of mass surveillance and inter-governmental sharing of information on a national scale after the totalitarian overreach of the government to the “bug” in 2020 you may be beyond reaching.
In fact, some agencies are citing “budget shortfalls” created by government policies instituted during the 2020 “plandemic” as the exact reason for the need to implement massive surveillance fusion centers.
In a recent article Judge Andrew Napolitano wrote: “Who can be happy while being observed by the government? A watched person changes behavior and loses liberty on account of being watched. The liberty to make unfettered choices, the right to shake a metaphorical fist in the tyrant’s face, the personal power to ignore what the government expects are all dissipated.
“A watched person hesitates to exercise freedom. The more the government gets away with surveillance without warrants, the more people will accept the servitude it brings. Personal freedom is the unfettered power to exercise natural rights without the approval of the government or the consent of any other person. It is the means to happiness. Yet, because we live in a society in which we need the government’s permission to do nearly anything, is it any wonder that the government wants to know everything about us?
“The government that spies continuously has large ears and insatiable eyes. And on its face there is no smile.”
With your help, we can make Louisiana transparent!
Citizens for a New Louisiana is the only organization in Louisiana dedicated to reforming local government. With the help of numerous volunteers we are making some progress. However, there’s much more work we could be doing. Making a difference will take a little more than reading an article every now and then. Your community doesn’t need another spectator. They need someone willing to step onto the field and become a real part of the solution. Will you join us?Help us to achieve the vision of creating a new, propserous state by becoming a Citizen of a New Louisiana. Become a Citizen