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Lancaster's new "spy plane": The idea of constant city surveillance at 1000 feet brings praise and concern




Banks of television monitors showing a fraction of London's CCTV camera network are pictured in the Metropolitan Police's Special Operations Room on December 31, 2007 in London, England.
Banks of television monitors showing a fraction of London's CCTV camera network are pictured in the Metropolitan Police's Special Operations Room on December 31, 2007 in London, England.
Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images

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Google Earth, cameras in dressing rooms and at traffic intersections, our own posts on YouTube. Those are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to modern surveillance. In May, the city of Lancaster adds yet another technique to its roster.

According to Ann Simmons at the Los Angeles Times, for $1.3 million, Lancaster has outfitted a Cessna 172 with "high-tech optical equipment that will record the movements of people on the ground." The plane is slated to be in-air ten hours a day, at an elevation of 1000 to 3000 feet, and — if you live in Antelope Valley — its eye will be on you. Proponents point to an estimate by the sheriff's department that the new program will result in a 40 percent drop in crime; opponents argue that our right to privacy is more important.

WEIGH IN:

Which side do you come down on? Are you willing to be observed at close quarters by law enforcement if it means you might eventually be living in "the safest city in America"?

Guest:

R. Rex Parris, Mayor of Lancaster

Peter Bibring, senior staff attorney, ACLU of Southern California