St. Louis, MO – Aerial surveillance company Persistent Surveillance Systems (PSS) negotiated a plan in secret with a member of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen with hopes of flying multiple spy planes simultaneously over the city’s metro area in 2021. The plan that PSS and the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department (SLMPD) are pushing the Board of Aldermen to adopt is up for a vote on January 5 and has dire privacy and civil liberties implications. PSS has a history of secrecy and their plan for St Louis could set a dangerous new benchmark for dystopian police surveillance.
Board Bill 200 (BB200) to contract PSS for “aerial surveillance research” poses numerous civil liberties concerns. PSS’s plan would include three aircraft, each capable of monitoring 32 square miles, flying for 18 hours per day over the St. Louis Metro area for a “minimum of 40 hours per week.” These sky cops would then feed data to a police fusion center where suspect pixels would be identified as they passed any city accessible CCTV camera. As the bill puts it, “analysts will track individuals and vehicles that pass the City’s camera network.