Accountability

from Invest/Divest Louisville

-Divest in technology for policing-

Investing 6.8 million in police and technology in 2014: Louisville has a 24 hour surveillance center known as the Real Time Crime Center.

It was established in response to the so called “Wave of Mayhem” on the night of March 22nd 2014, which was a night of civil unrest and mourning where Black youth held their own vigil in response to the death of one student who (along with a second student) was critically injured in an altercation with an adult on the TARC.

This night supposedly resulted in 17 incidents of crime, which allowed for Metro Gov to justify a 6.8 million dollar increase in the “safety” budget, 4.7 million of which were reoccuring costs. With this money, our city created the Real Time Crime Center, hired 96 more police officers, and several crime, tech, and data specialists.

-Divest in technology for policing-


Investing 6.8 million in police and technology in 2014:

Louisville has a 24 hour surveillance center known as the Real Time Crime Center.

It was established in response to the so called “Wave of Mayhem” on the night of March 22nd 2014, which was a night of civil unrest and mourning where Black youth held their own vigil in response to the death of one student who (along with a second student) was critically injured in an altercation with an adult on the TARC.

This night supposedly resulted in 17 incidents of crime, which allowed for Metro Gov to justify a 6.8 million dollar increase in the “safety” budget, 4.7 million of which were reoccuring costs. With this money, our city created the Real Time Crime Center, hired 96 more police officers, and several crime, tech, and data specialists.

As of 2017 the Real Time Crime Center monitored:

  • Feeds from over 200 security cameras in target areas
  • Social media
  • And other police technologies such as ShotSpotter, which was ultimately ineffective and expensive.
  • Our city no longer uses ShotSpotter.

Investing Russell Neighborhood Development funds into Surveillance Technology from 2017-2019:

As noted by Ed Blayney, Louisville Metro Government’s Civic Technology Manager, in his Medium posts in June and November of 2019, Metro Government installed 35 state-of-the-art surveillance cameras around Russell neighborhood to the distress of many Russell residents.

Blayney notes that these police cameras have been placed in “public areas such as roadways, sidewalks, parks, etc.” Blayney’s Medium posts served to spin the increased police surveillance as technological advancement, by referring to Russell as SMART Russell.

How were they able to fund the increased surveillance?

Between 2017 and 2019, Louisville Metro Government’s Vision Russell initiative was able to leverage funding from the Choice Neighborhood Grant to increase surveillance in Russell by utilizing an unethical and biased needs assessment survey.

Vision Russell’s needs assessment survey used leading and loaded questions to force respondents to answer questions on safety—which is fundamentally different from security—in ways that would on the surface pass as support for increased policing and surveillance. These unethical research practices are fireable offenses that use corrupted data to justify racist policies and practices.

Investing in LMPD-partnership with Ring:

The LMPD has entered into a partnership with Amazon’s Ring, a cloud-based home security system. These partnerships are often propagandized as innovations on social media and on fliers by local police departments and governments.

LMPD are one of many police departments and government agencies (including Immigration and Customs Enforcement aka ICE) that have partnered with Amazon to gain access to Amazon’s cloud-based services and private home surveillance footage via the Ring application.

According to WDRB, in the wake of this new LMPD-Ring partnership, there are many people that are concerned with privacy all over the city. Some are concerned that our court system’s role in granting access to our private surveillance footage will be weakened.

ACLU of Kentucky’s communications director, Amber Duke, recognizes that Louisvillians have always been free to share footage with LMPD, but she is concerned that some residents might not believe that they have a choice when police officers contact them. “They might feel like, ‘Oh, I have to participate in this police investigation or I might be charged with obstruction,’” Duke continued. “… Whether or not people say yes to that request, I don’t think we can say that that interaction is entirely uncolored by the potential for coercion.”

Furthermore, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an internationally recognised nonprofit leader in the dense of digital privacy, free speech, and innovation, recently wrote “The rapid proliferation of this partnership between police departments and the Ring surveillance system—without any oversight, transparency, or restrictions—poses a grave threat to the privacy of all people in the community.” They continued, “...it also may chill the First Amendment rights of political canvassers and community organizers who spread their messages doortodoor, and contribute to the unfair racial profiling of our minority neighbors and visitors.” Let it be recognized that Ring’s claim to reducing crime has yet to be validated with evidence.

According to an NBC News Investigation, “after interviews with 40 law enforcement agencies in eight states that have partnered with Ring for at least three months — that there is little concrete evidence to support… [Ring’s claim that] it’s doorbell cameras reduce burglaries by more than 50 percent.” Bowling Green, KY, police Officer Stickle shared his skepticism with NBC News by saying “If you expect the camera to deter people, you’re assuming that they see it and that they care. Those are two big assumptions.”

Investing in the regional technology hub for Microsoft in 2019:

Louisville has become a Microsoft regional hub for artificial intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT), and data science. Metro Louisville Government and Microsoft are working together to create an AI and IoT ecosystem here in Louisville.

Predictive policing, corrupt and implicitly biased data sets, facial recognition, risk and worthiness algorithms, machine learning, and so much more, are the very real dangers of rapidly advancing technology without accountability, transparency, or oversight.

There are no measures being taken to mitigate these growing community concerns. These technologies have the potential of turning our city into a real-life Minority Report nightmare, where vulnerable populations will be criminalized, incarcerated, and even killed at greater rates than what we see today.

All this will be done under the camouflage of advancement and innovation

Resources:

View the proposed 2020- 2021 budget by clicking here

Budget committee meetings are set to be held on June 23rd at 5:00 PM and June 24th at 3:00 PM. Click here for more informaton.

View part one of the LMPD Audit. Click

LA Mayor Slashes LAPD Budget As Calls To ‘Defund Police’ Slowly Pick Up Steam. Read more