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Audio Surveillance, Intended to Detect Gunshots, Can Pick Up Much More 215

Posted by timothy
from the he-ain't-heavy-but-he's-a-very-good-listener dept.
New submitter groovethefish writes "This NYT article highlights the use of electronic listening devices installed on utility poles, buildings, and other structures, then centrally monitored for gunshots. The company SureSpotter claims it helps reduce time wasted by police searching for the source of gunfire in their patrol areas, but the privacy implications are just hitting the courts. If they are monitoring 24/7 and also pickup conversations along with gunshots, can that be used against the people who are recorded?" Evidently, Yes: the linked article describes just such a case. Continues groovethefish: "The company line, from the article: 'James G. Beldock, a vice president at ShotSpotter, said that the system was not intended to record anything except gunshots and that cases like New Bedford's were extremely rare. "There are people who perceive that these sensors are triggered by conversations, but that is just patently not true," he said. "They don't turn on unless they hear a gunshot."'"
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Audio Surveillance, Intended to Detect Gunshots, Can Pick Up Much More

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  • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @11:41AM (#40143137)

    QUOTE: "In at least one city, New Bedford, Mass., where sensors recorded a loud street argument that accompanied a fatal shooting last December, the system has raised questions about privacy and the reach of police surveillance, even in the service of reducing gun violence."

    The Supreme Court has ruled people have no expectation of privacy in a public setting or publicly-open facility (like a mall). Note that also includes cops who try to make you turn-off your videocamera or audio recorder. They don't have any right to privacy either, and can not force you to turn them off, or confiscate & erase the evidence.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @11:50AM (#40143327)

    QUOTE: "In at least one city, New Bedford, Mass., where sensors recorded a loud street argument that accompanied a fatal shooting last December, the system has raised questions about privacy and the reach of police surveillance, even in the service of reducing gun violence."

    The Supreme Court has ruled people have no expectation of privacy in a public setting or publicly-open facility (like a mall). Note that also includes cops who try to make you turn-off your videocamera or audio recorder. They don't have any right to privacy either, and can not force you to turn them off, or confiscate & erase the evidence.

    There are twelve states in which all parties must consent to being audio recorded, otherwise it's a felony, one of which is Massachusetts. Ten of those states have an 'expectation of privacy' clause which would make recording people in a park legal. The two which don't are Illinois and, you guessed it, Massachusetts.

  • by SJHillman (1966756) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @12:02PM (#40143499)

    I implemented several IP cameras for a previous employer. They had a nifty little "record on motion" feature in which it wouldn't record (could still be monitored live) to the NAS unless there was motion detected. One of the big selling points around this feature was that it could actually record up to 30 seconds BEFORE the motion that triggered it so you could be sure you weren't missing anything before the camera was triggered. I believe it did it by keeping a couple minutes of video in a buffer on the camera. If an event triggered it, that buffer would be written to the NAS first and then it would continue appending the live video to the storage until the motion stopped plus X minutes. This system likely works in a similar fashion - it keeps a buffer that's continually overwritten until an event (IE: gunshot) triggers it to be saved to permanent media.

  • by SJHillman (1966756) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @12:10PM (#40143625)

    I posted in more detail elsewhere in this article, but I installed a security camera system that could store some footage from before motion tripped the camera. Basically, once motion was in the frame (or a specific part of the frame), it writes everything from the buffer preceding the motion detection to storage and then appends the live video until X seconds/minutes after the motion stops. Unless there's a trigger, the preceding footage never gets written to storage. Technically, the buffer is a type of storage but it's very small, often overwritten, and only used if a trigger event is detected shortly thereafter.

  • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @12:16PM (#40143725)

    >>>one of which is Massachusetts

    Yes and that law is now nullified by the First Circuit Court of the U.S. which declared "citizens have a first amendment right to record their public officials in the performance of their duties." - Then they freed the citizen who was being charged under wiretap laws for recording an law enforcement officer.

    In other words, cops may not force you to turn off your camera, per your 1st amendment "freedom of the press" right which allows not just recording conversation with pen-and-paper (like the old days) but also with audio or video.

  • by Thelasko (1196535) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @04:23PM (#40147661) Journal

    There are in fact a number of cases of "dirty cops" in jail and also collecting their pension.

    If so, you should have no problem providing specific examples of at least a few of them.

    My personal favorite. [chicagotribune.com]

  • by StopKoolaidPoliticsT (1010439) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @07:44PM (#40150161)
    A local tv station had a story on this a few weeks ago [whec.com]

    When former Greece Police Chief Merritt Rahn was found guilty of cover-up crimes involving two of his officers, he lost his job, his reputation and his freedom. He didn't, however, lose his taxpayer funded pension. For the past two years, while behind bars, Rahn has been collecting a retirement pension of $55,000 per year.

    "Well if he does, he doesn't deserve it, that's for sure," said Greece resident Bob Warnick when we told him of Rahn's pension.

    In fact, that's just the tip of the iceberg. We found many public employees convicted of crimes and still collecting their pensions. And it's perfectly legal.

    After digging online, we ran the names of some former dubious local public employees into a database that tracks pensions. And here's what I Team 10 discovered:

    *Former state assemblyman Jerry Johnson. Convicted of breaking into a staff member's home in Livingston County, he retired in 2000 and now collects an annual pension of $39,807.

    *Bob Morone, in prison for his part in the county Robutrad scandal...$18,790.

    *Former City of Rochester inspector William Redden, who admitted to taking bribes in a bid rigging scheme...$21,376.

    *Former Monroe County Sheriff's Deputy James Telban was found guilty of misdemeanor DWI in a crash that killed a motorcyclist. He still gets his pension...$30,000 a year.

    *John Stanwix, former Monroe County Water Authority chairman who pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of steering contracts to a consulting company he owned has an staggering pension of $98,658 per year.

    *Nelson Miles, Jr., formerly a teacher in Caledonia-Mumford, who downloaded child porn...$21,705.

    *Crooked cop Gary Pignato, now locked up for using his badge in Greece to coerce women into sex, gets $45,494 a year.

    and that's just a partial list from one small area that isn't Chicago or New Orleans

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