An emergency and surveillance center in Chicago. (Photo IBM)

An emergency and surveillance center in Chicago. (Photo IBM)

Mayoral candidate Larry Grohn voted on Tuesday to officially launched a program of mass surveillance by cameras by the executive branch of city government, led for now by Andy Berke.

The city council, rejecting any hint that surveillance of the poor is part of a continuing pattern of abuse against them by the state, loaded F$750,000 into contracts with IBM and other corporations for 15 pole-mounted cameras, data management, a public contact app and facial recognition software.

By David Tulis / Noogaradio 1240 AM 101.1

The vote on the nine-member council was 8-0. Messages sent Wednesday to Mr. Grohn seeking comment went unanswered.

That software connects cameras faces soaked up by the lenses to databases that, depending on contracts, feeds automatically any full-view face into one or more databases for instant analysis and flagging.

The police department, led by chief Fred Fletcher, promises not to keep the piles of human faces and identities past 30 days.

Surveillance of the poor and of blacks is defended on the grounds that many crimes happen among people in poor part of town — and sometimes against the poor. The cameras will be mounted in areas where street crimes occur and people involved in shootings and assaults are known to frequent.

The cameras will be easy to move as human patterns change, and are able to zoom, pan and rotate. Police officers will be able to watch video on their laptops in the field or at the city spying center, also known as the Real Time Intelligence Center, where a bank of TVs will be installed to put live eyeballs onto the feeds.

Surveillance is part of the rise of technological systems that make cities “smart” and city governments more supple and precise in exercising state-granted police power.

A police representative and council chairman Moses Freeman gushed over the prospects of increasing law enforcement, part of which power is said to enhance public safety. “We all feel excited about what is happening to our police department with not only the technology, but the personnel,” he said. “We are proud of our police department, where it’s going and where it’s come from.”


Paul Leach, “Chattanooga City Council approves $750,000 in tools for police intelligence center,” Chattanooga Times Free Press, Feb. 15, 2017

Kate Smith, “City council approves new video cameras in Chattanooga,”, Feb 14, 2017


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