Baltimore News

Baltimore’s Aerial Surveillance Program Will Finish Saturday, Police Say

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The aerial surveillance planes that have been flying over the skies of Baltimore will stop operating after Saturday, according to city police officials.

The Baltimore Police Department confirmed Friday “all flight operations for the pilot program will end on October 31, 2020.”

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In an email to WJZ, a department spokesperson said: “we will continue to work with our vendor, independent evaluators and stakeholders to provide additional analysis, briefings and related activities.”

In April, the city council approved a privately-funded six-month aerial surveillance pilot program proponents argued would help solve crimes. Opponents, including the ACLU of Maryland, which sued over the program, argued it was a violation of residents’ First Amendment and Fourth Amendment rights.


Last month, the police department released a preliminary report on the program’s effectiveness. The report found just 17 of the 121 homicides that happened in the city between May 1 and August 20 happened during flight hours and within coverage range.

Evidence from the planes was used in 107 cases out of a total of 874. The report concluded the program helped close a number of homicide cases and more arrests were made in cases with air evidence than without.

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