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PSS is committed to the protection of individual privacy in accordance with constitutional rights, safeguarding data, defining allowable use of data and technology, and ethical analysis. In an effort to create policies in line with best practices, PSS consulted with the ACLU and other civil rights organizations. While specific contracts will outline acceptable use of data differently (i.e. criminal use vs. disaster relief coordination), PSS is committed to the following privacy policies:


The PSS Wide-Area Imagery System (WAIS) can be used for general deterrence of targeted crimes; disrupting identified crime patterns; safeguarding against potential threats to the public; management of emergency response situations during natural and man-made disasters; and other uses of similar nature.

2.Wide-Area Imagery Systems

The wide-area imagery system will only be utilized to view areas within the public right-of-way and/or public view. The current system has the ability to operate uninterrupted for four to five hours before the aircraft has to land for fuel. The sensor technology on the airplane has the capability of viewing up to a 25 square mile radius depending upon the altitude of the aircraft. The images captured by the sensor technology have the ability to be viewed nearly in real-time leveraging a secure data down-link system.

3.Acceptable Uses of PSS WAIS Imagery and Analysis

The Community Support Program is used to support a wide range of activities. Below are some examples of acceptable uses of the wide area imagery collected as part of the Community Support Program effort.

 • To support the investigation of reported Part I & II Crimes (murder, rape, robbery, aggravated     assault, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson.)

• To support the investigation of drug related manufacturing and distribution related crimes,

• To support investigation of significant community and victim reported crimes,

• To support the management and execution of major events,

• To assist civil authorities during weather emergencies or natural disaster response,

• To support civil organization during large scale disturbances,

• To support approved law enforcement tactical operations,

• To assist in the investigation of illegal dumping. 

During active WAIS operations dispatch information, to include citizen generated calls for service, will be monitored and evaluated to see if the use of this technology would assist in the apprehension or case solvability of an active incident.

4.Prohibited Activity

The use of WAIS will be conducted in a professional, ethical and legal manner. WAIS will not be used to invade the privacy of individuals, to look into private areas or areas where the reasonable expectation of privacy exists. All reasonable efforts will be taken to protect these rights. WAIS technology shall not be used to track individuals arbitrarily or based on race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability or other classifications protected by law.


Personnel involved directly with the use of WAIS technology shall be appropriately trained and supervised. Training shall include the review and acknowledgement of this policy.

6.Media Storage

All media will be stored in a secure area with access restricted to authorized persons. Recordings not otherwise needed for criminal evidence or for official reasons are retained for a period of 45 days and then destroyed.

7.Review and Release of Video Images and related Data

The review or the release of video images and analytical data (to non-contracted personnel) shall be done only with the authorization of the Contractor or their designee and only with an approved public records request. Any recordings or analytical data needed for an official reason or investigations, criminal or otherwise, shall be collected and stored in an appropriate and secure manner and submitted into evidence in accordance with customer determined evidence procedures. An audit trail shall be maintained to record all access to the video images and analytical data and may be used to detect inappropriate or unauthorized use.

8.Policy Violations

Unauthorized access to the WAIS recorded imagery, misuse of the imagery, unauthorized reproduction of the imagery, or unauthorized distribution of imagery will result in an Administrative Investigation.


Image by Matt Popovich

U.S. Law Enforcement Operations

The record presently before this Court indicates that images produced by the AIR pilot program will only depict individuals as miniscule dots moving about a city landscape. The movement of these dots cannot be tracked without significant labor. Gaps in the imagery data foreclose the tracking of a single person over several days. This limited form of aerial surveillance does not constitute a “search” under Forth Amendment, nor does it burden First Amendment speech activities. In a City plagues with violent crime and clamoring for police protections, this Court is loath to take the “extraordinary” step of stopping the AIR program before it even begins.

Richard D. Bennett

United States District Judge

April 24, 2020


April 9, 2020

United States District Court

District Court of Maryland

Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief


April 24, 2020

United States District Court

District Court of Maryland

Complaint for Declaratory and Memorandum Opinion

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