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Lancaster OKs Plane That Will Film Citizens From Above Hoping to Catch Criminals

Photo by Atwater Village Newbie via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr
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It's bird, it's a plane, it's an aerial spy-cam, hoping to catch evil-doers in the fair city of Lancaster.

The city council of Lancaster just approved a program that will allow a Cessna to weave through the airspace of Antelope Valley for 10 hours a day while a camera rolls. The film will be sent to the sheriff's station on the ground and reviewed in real-time for people doing hilarious shit in the privacy of their own backyards crime, according to The Los Angeles Daily News.

It will cost the city about $1.3 million to launch, and once it gets going it will cost $90,000 a month to keep the program going. The issue that might keep this program from taking flight could be concerns over its Orwellian implications — not the cost. The ACLU wants to know more about this airborne crime-fighting machine but Mayor R. Rex Parris hasn't enjoyed the privacy advocates' line of questioning. "They are acting like an aggressive bunch of lawyers," he said.

Helicopters in Los Angeles are outfitted with video recorders, but they're only flipped on when law enforcement already has their eye on suspicious activity, like a suspect in a police chase.

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The recent methods of crime-fighters in the Antelope Valley have attracted quite a bit of outside scrutiny. Federal investigators have launched a probe into whether deputies violated the civil rights of minorities in Section 8 housing.