Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.

This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.

News

LAPD Wants You to Watch Your Neighbors for Suspicious Terrorist Activity, ACLU Not Thrilled

Stories like these are only possible with your help!
You have the power to keep local news strong for the coming months. Your financial support today keeps our reporters ready to meet the needs of our city. Thank you for investing in your community.

The LAPD has announced the creation of new program called iWatch, something which LAPD Chief William Bratton calls the "21st century version of Neighborhood Watch." Basically, the program encourages residents to identify and report suspicious behaviors and activities that have been known to be used by terrorists.

But the ACLU, which was included in conversations about iWatch before its current initiation, still has concerns. "Of course people should be able to report activity that they think is suspicious, and the LAPD has long maintained a hotline for residents to do so," a statement from the Los Angeles chapter read. "But iWATCH actively encourages people to report a variety of ordinary activities - such as people who are wearing clothes that are too big, or who are drawing buildings, or who are doing something else that could be innocuous. That leads toward racial and religious profiling."

The ACLU feels people will report ordinary behavior of people who fit a preconceived notion of what suspicious people look like. And what does that mean for the so-called suspicious person? "[They] could be visited by police and have personal data sent to government databases, where it could be used indefinitely to subject them to extensive searches at airports, deny them government jobs, and other unreasonable and/or illegal sanctions," says the group.

Still, Bratton believes "a single terrorism incident would do more harm to the city's image and economy than 50 gang murders," noted LA Observed's Kevin Roderick, speaking of a live interview the police chief had with Los Angeles Magazine. Currently, about 300 officers are assigned to anti-terror duties.