Baltimore Police Initiate "iWatch" Snoop Program

Citizen Snoop meets Citizen Snitch in Baltimore. The Baltimore Police have initiated a program called iWatch in which it asks citizens to text or send videos and photos of suspicious behavior. The site is monitored 24/7.

Citizens are encouraged to report activity that just does not fit. You can now use our web tips form to submit a tip or report suspicious activity to police. Information can be sent from your cell phone, hand-held device, or computer 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Tips can also be e-mailed.

Among the suspicious behaviors it encourages people to report:

  • Unknown individuals loitering or lurking near you
  • People drawing or measuring important buildings
  • Strangers asking questions about a home or building
  • People who identify themselves but do not have credentials

Places it encourages you to watch:[More...]

  • Your neighborhood
  • Government buildings
  • Religious facilities
  • Amusement parks
  • Sports/Entertainment venues
  • Mass gathering locations such as parades and fairs
  • Schools
  • Hotels
  • Theaters
  • Shopping centers
  • Bridges
  • Public transportation

Baltimore residents can sign up to receive e-mails about the tips.

It goes beyond police, in that users will be able to file complaints about quality-of-life issues on everything from animals to abandoned cars.

What's next? Urging citizens to buy infrared cameras and aim them at their neighbors' windows to spy on what's going on inside?

In Miami, the Sun reports (link above), police are using a flying surveillance drone built by a military contractor.

Law enforcement calls this stuff "techno crime fighting." I call it invasive and a huge waste of time and money.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Blockleiter (aka Blockwart) (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Andreas on Sun Feb 20, 2011 at 02:48:31 AM EST
    Tyrants need infiltrators (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by 1980Ford on Sun Feb 20, 2011 at 06:00:02 AM EST
    That is what the Egyptians feared which is why it took 30 years to rebel. Where do these secret police and infiltrators come from? Understanding this may explain Stanley Milgram Experiment and the Stanford Prison Experiment. A new study may explain it. People who want to be popular and liked, to be approved of, are sadistic in an effort to rise in the hierarchy. When people want to be approved of as normal, they may be more likely to contribute to iWatch and support the government with blind faith. Observe how many defense attorneys want to win the approval of Nancy Grace, for example.

    I live in Baltimore City (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by honora on Sun Feb 20, 2011 at 09:04:10 AM EST
    I have no problem with this program.  In the olden days people told the cop on the beat when there was a problem, now they text the cops.  We have a wonderful young AA woman mayor and I have confidence in her.  Most of the violence in our city is drug-related and Black on Black, bringing it down will do wonders for our wonderful city.

    Legalize drugs and address the real issues (none / 0) (#15)
    by Dadler on Sun Feb 20, 2011 at 10:25:32 AM EST
    Creating a personal police state is not the answer.

    Free drug treatment (none / 0) (#16)
    by honora on Sun Feb 20, 2011 at 10:42:12 AM EST
    I would support.  Legalizing drugs is not my idea of dealing with the real issues.

    Too many sacred cows... (none / 0) (#17)
    by Yes2Truth on Sun Feb 20, 2011 at 10:51:27 AM EST

    would be threatened if we legalize freedom that much.

    We don't legalize selling (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by observed on Sun Feb 20, 2011 at 12:09:16 PM EST
    poison to ingest, or quack medicine,do we?

    Uh, many non-prescription medications (none / 0) (#22)
    by Harry Saxon on Sun Feb 20, 2011 at 08:32:52 PM EST
    can be fatal if used improperly, and illicit drugs aren't snake oil.

    Many illicit drugs are (none / 0) (#25)
    by observed on Mon Feb 21, 2011 at 04:44:26 AM EST
    quite harmful,and can be fatal. By the way, few prescription drugs are dangerous in normal doses.

    MJ isn't one of them (none / 0) (#27)
    by Harry Saxon on Mon Feb 21, 2011 at 07:49:55 AM EST
    and more people in this country die of overdoses of prescription drugs than from illicit drugs, you should educate yourself instead of repeating propaganda mindlessly here.

    I didn't say anything about MJ; (none / 0) (#29)
    by observed on Mon Feb 21, 2011 at 08:03:04 AM EST
    I was responding to a blanket statement that all drugs should be legalized.
    In fact, I favor legalizing (and taxing) marijuana; at the same time, I have nothing against the government using education to discourage its use, assuming the information is correct.
    My problem with the idea of "drug legalization" is that I don't see any way to separate legalizing recreational drugs from legalizing ALL pharmaceuticals for use without prescription.
    Decriminalize? Sure. Legalize? I don't even know what that means, and I would not possibly support it until I knew that such a step wouldn't entail abolishing the FDA (something a great many Republicans and Libertarians think they want, as you know).  We already have enough crap quack medicines being sold already, many of which are dangerous.

    BTW, I want to discuss this more; (none / 0) (#26)
    by observed on Mon Feb 21, 2011 at 05:04:01 AM EST
    i'm going to bring it up in an open thread,as I have a q. for BTD or Jeralyn.

    BTW, your last statement is completely (none / 0) (#30)
    by observed on Mon Feb 21, 2011 at 08:04:06 AM EST
    ridiculous---"illicit drugs aren't snake oil"???
    Perhaps you have smoked too many to see what nonsense that blanket statement is.

    Patent medicines (none / 0) (#31)
    by Harry Saxon on Mon Feb 21, 2011 at 08:18:11 AM EST
    were concoctions of various substances, none of which probably provided more than temporary relief due to the alcohol/opium present in many of them.

    Illicit drugs, OTOH, may be diluted to the point of almost inefficiency, but they still do what they are suppose to do, otherwise people wouldn't keep taking them in the first place.

    BTW, smoking and chewing tobacco certainly kill a lot of people a year, but we allow it to remain on sale all around the country to adults without a prescription.

    Why is that?


    I visit Baltimore City, often. (none / 0) (#32)
    by Chuck0 on Mon Feb 21, 2011 at 12:05:13 PM EST
    I live just up the road in PA. I hope the rest of the residents don't share your happiness with a police state or I will have to seriously re-think my spending money in your restaurants, bars and hotels.

    How does reporting (none / 0) (#34)
    by eric on Mon Feb 21, 2011 at 12:07:28 PM EST
    any of these activities relate to drug related violence?

    I think I have the same problem with (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by Anne on Sun Feb 20, 2011 at 09:40:23 AM EST
    this as I do with all the other data collection that's going on: at some point the amount of data that has to be analyzed and possibly investigated overruns the ability of the police to do it with any degree of accuracy, and it takes away from dealing with actual crime.

    And I have a problem with videos and pictures of people deemed "suspicious" by some person on the street becoming part of a massive master police file - that who knows how it could be used later.  What if I'm a teacher, and I'm filmed looking at the features of a building I want to talk to my class about?  Sure, an "investigation" would absolve me of any wrongdoing, but what if questions are asked at my school, what if that becomes part of my employment file - what kind of damage can or will this do to people whose "suspicious activity" is just the product of overactive, paranoid imaginations encouraged by police?

    I live 25 miles north of Baltimore and work in the city, and every day, as I drive to work, I have to look at over-the-highway signs that often say: "Report Suspicious Activity" along with a phone number.  Thank God these signs sometimes are used to advise of traffic problems, and they use them for Amber Alerts, too, which is fine.

    I get that no one wants another 9/11, and the authorities have been carrying around the guilt of having informtion they didn't use that might have stopped it, but here's the thing: isn't this just going to be one more huge accumulation of information that no one will be able to determine means something until it's too late?

    anne -- no one was gonna stop 9/11... (none / 0) (#14)
    by Yes2Truth on Sun Feb 20, 2011 at 09:50:14 AM EST

    precisely because it was a government operation.

    Well, It Probably Won't Be Long (5.00 / 0) (#21)
    by The Maven on Sun Feb 20, 2011 at 12:43:31 PM EST
    before Baltimore is vaulted way up the list of America's rudest cities for tourists:  I mean, god forbid that some stranger without credentials dares to ask a question about a building or local event.  Whenever I travel, I tend to do that sort of thing all the time, and I certainly wouldn't relish the thought of getting reported for suspicious activity as a result.

    As many of us had feared all along, the apparatus of the perpertual security state continues to grow incrementally as most people become ever more acclimated to the sacrifices and infringements on personal liberty that they've been asked to make in the name of security.

    And if anything awful were to happen, no one considered "serious" would ever consider dismantling this mostly useless structure, but would only call for yet another expansion of our security Potemkin facade and supposedly as proof that to try to keep ourselves safe, even more encroachments on our liberties are a reasonable price to pay.  After several cycles, one would have to questions what freedoms we're still protecting.

    I live in Baltimore City (none / 0) (#24)
    by sj on Sun Feb 20, 2011 at 10:38:01 PM EST
    and I'm always taking photographs.  The architecture is amazing.  If I were better at drawing I would be doing that instead.  I'm mostly ignored, but every now and then someone will ask to see the photograph I just took.  I've even emailed a few of them to interested passers by.

    I don't think it will make much of a difference, but even so, I find those billboards Anne mentioned to be rather chilling.  As is the program itself.


    How about "iWatch" the police... (none / 0) (#2)
    by rhbrandon on Sun Feb 20, 2011 at 05:14:49 AM EST

    Maybe That's Where They Got The Idea (none / 0) (#6)
    by daring grace on Sun Feb 20, 2011 at 07:43:23 AM EST
    a la Rodney King...

    The proliferation of cell phone cameras has really changed the way people can monitor police misconduct. And has. In my neck of the woods, we've had 3 or 4 incidents in the last 2 years where people recorded and distributed widely images of the police using "excessive force".


    Unfortunately (none / 0) (#35)
    by Chuck0 on Mon Feb 21, 2011 at 12:08:58 PM EST
    too many police and state's attorneys in MD seem to think "watching" them (via video recording) is illegal. Google Anthony Graber.

    Why don't they just (none / 0) (#4)
    by Zorba on Sun Feb 20, 2011 at 07:09:56 AM EST
    rename themselves the Ministry for State Security?  Or the MGB?  Are they going to encourage children to spy on their parents next?  I have gotten to the point where I just don't recognize my country any more.

    How true (5.00 / 0) (#23)
    by mmc9431 on Sun Feb 20, 2011 at 09:00:30 PM EST
    " I have gotten to the point where I just don't recognize my country any more".

    I find myself saying that more and more. I don't know who to be more upset with. The politicians that are destroying our freedom or the citizens that are cheering them along.


    I thought we were broke? (none / 0) (#5)
    by mmc9431 on Sun Feb 20, 2011 at 07:23:46 AM EST
    It's amazing that even though I keep reading about how "broke" we are, there always seems to be money available in an effort for politicians to prove just how tough they are.

    Is this money coming out of our Homeland Security budget?

    "Credentials"? (none / 0) (#7)
    by daring grace on Sun Feb 20, 2011 at 07:45:29 AM EST
    I wonder if my lowly public historian credentials will suffice when I'm researching a building or neighborhood.

    Not that I'm doing it in Baltimore...

    Neighborhood watch (none / 0) (#8)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Feb 20, 2011 at 08:27:34 AM EST
    meets the Internet.

    The unintended consequences will take a while to show up.

    Gotta watch the jihadis (none / 0) (#28)
    by Harry Saxon on Mon Feb 21, 2011 at 07:53:16 AM EST
    so they don''t end up from the streets to under the beds of patriotic Americans at night.

    Fear and loathing in Cuba? (none / 0) (#11)
    by Yes2Truth on Sun Feb 20, 2011 at 09:24:10 AM EST

    Years ago, many of us felt sorry for Cuban citizens when we learned from our media that "in Castro's Cuba, neighbors are urged to spy on their neighbors".

    The old Soviet Union and every (none / 0) (#12)
    by jeffinalabama on Sun Feb 20, 2011 at 09:25:21 AM EST
    oppressive regime has used informers. 'Stukach' or informer, is still an insult in Russian.

    But on the other hand... had an elderly lady who lived directly across the street, she had to move into assisted living. No electricity or water running to the house.

    Someone noticed lights inside the house, called the police. People had begun to use it as a party/drug hangout.

    Not what I want across the street from me or my two dogs...

    NIMBY? (none / 0) (#36)
    by jbindc on Tue Feb 22, 2011 at 09:34:11 AM EST
    I would suggest (none / 0) (#18)
    by TJBuff on Sun Feb 20, 2011 at 10:58:31 AM EST
    someone with writing skillz, like BTD, consider updating 1984 someday.  Technology-wise, I mean.

    People drawing (none / 0) (#33)
    by eric on Mon Feb 21, 2011 at 12:05:17 PM EST
    important buildings?  Really?  What could possibly be dangerous about drawing a building?