No products in the cart.

Back To Top


Baltimore Police Contractor

Possible article:

Who is the Baltimore Police Contractor?

The Baltimore Police Department (BPD) has employed many contractors over the years to provide a range of services, from forensic analysis to technology support. However, one contractor has recently attracted attention and criticism for their role in supporting the controversial surveillance program known as the Persistent Surveillance System (PSS). This contractor is the Ohio-based company Persistent Surveillance Systems LLC (PSS LLC), which has received millions of dollars from BPD since 2016. What is PSS LLC, what is the PSS, and what are the concerns about their use in Baltimore?

PSS LLC was founded in 2012 by Ross McNutt, a retired Air Force officer who had developed a system of aerial surveillance using high-resolution cameras mounted on planes. The system, called Angel Fire, was tested in Iraq and Afghanistan to track insurgent activities and provide real-time intelligence to ground troops. McNutt believed that this technology could also be used for civilian law enforcement in the US, especially in high-crime areas where traditional methods of policing were not effective enough. In 2014, he launched a pilot program in Compton, California, which generated controversy and privacy concerns among residents and activists. The program was later shut down due to lack of funding.

However, McNutt found a new market for his technology in Baltimore, where the BPD was struggling with a surge in homicides and shootings. In 2016, BPD signed a contract with PSS LLC to deploy the PSS, which consisted of flying planes over the city for up to 12 hours a day, capturing images of every person and vehicle within a 32-square-mile area, and storing the data for up to 45 days. The images were then analyzed by trained analysts who could track suspects and witnesses in real-time or retrospectively. The PSS was marketed as a tool to help BPD solve and prevent violent crimes, as well as to deter criminals from committing them. McNutt claimed that the PSS was “like Google Earth with TiVo capability,” and that it was a “game-changer” for law enforcement.

However, the PSS also raised many questions about its legality, effectiveness, and ethics. The BPD did not inform the public or the City Council about the PSS until after it had been deployed for months. The PSS was not approved by any court or warrant, and it was not subject to any oversight or audit by civilian authorities. The PSS was not transparent about how it collected and stored data, how it identified persons of interest, or how it prevented false positives or other errors. The PSS was not evaluated by any independent experts or peer-reviewed studies, and its claims of success were based on anecdotal evidence and cherry-picked examples. The PSS was also criticized for its potential to violate the Fourth Amendment rights of privacy and freedom of movement, as well as to exacerbate racial and class disparities in policing. The PSS was perceived by some as a form of mass surveillance that treated all residents as suspects and undermined trust between the police and the community.

The PSS became a subject of public debate and media scrutiny in 2020, after a private donor funded a three-month pilot program in Baltimore, which was not approved or supervised by BPD or the city government. The pilot generated mixed results and reactions, with some supporters praising its ability to track suspects and witnesses in high-profile cases, while others denouncing it as a form of “spy plane” that violated civil liberties and failed to address the root causes of crime. The pilot also revealed that the PSS had been used in secret by BPD for years, and that the contract with PSS LLC had been renewed without proper scrutiny or accountability. The pilot sparked a campaign by activists, lawyers, and lawmakers to ban the PSS in Baltimore, and to demand more transparency, accountability, and community input in policing.

The PSS and its contractor highlight the complex and contentious issues involved in the intersection of technology and law enforcement, especially in the context of urban violence and racial inequality. The PSS raises questions about how to balance public safety with civil rights, how to evaluate and regulate novel technologies, and how to build trust and collaboration between the police and the community. The PSS also illustrates the role of contractors in shaping and implementing police policies and practices, and the need for greater scrutiny and transparency of their activities. As a copy editor, you can help to improve the accuracy and clarity of articles that cover the Baltimore Police Contractor and related topics, and to promote informed and critical thinking about these complex and important issues.


Make a splash with WaveRide, designed for everyone passionate about all things surfing.

184 Main Collins Street Victoria 8007
Follow Us: