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BPD ordered to expunge all records, data related to the defunct spy plane program

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Posted at 6:34 PM, Feb 16, 2022

BALTIMORE — The Baltimore Police Department as well as Persistent Surveillance Systems, the company contracted by the police department for the use of their aerial surveillance plane program will now have to expunge all records and data the spy plane collected as part of a settlement.

This does not include records that are being used in ongoing prosecutions.

This comes after the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in April 2020 against BPD arguing that the program was unconstitutional.

RELATED: ACLU sues BPD over surveillance plane program

A deeply divided panel of judges ruled in June of 2021 that the aerial surveillance program was unconstitutional. The aerial surveillance was scheduled to fly over the streets of Baltimore at least 40 hours a week.

The plane stopped flying in October 2020 after being contracted to fly for only six months.

RELATED: Divided appeals court rules BPD surveillance plane program was unconstitutional

Chief Judge Robert Gregory wrote the majority opinion of eight judges over the dissent of seven others.

"I do not accept, however, that some neighborhoods in Baltimore are hopeless absent this aerial surveillance. Wherever they call home—from East Baltimore to West Baltimore, from Sandtown to Roland Park, from Cherry Hill to Locust Point— Baltimoreans need not sacrifice their constitutional rights to obtain equal governmental protection. And even amidst strife and struggle, hope and talent still flourish."

Judge Harvey Wilkinson wrote a scathing dissent.

"This imposition of a straitjacket on Baltimore’s officials is most unfortunate. The people most affected by a problem are denied by this court a say in ameliorating it. Our direction to them is simply to endure their disenfranchisement. Baltimoreans face grave challenges that are difficult enough without our interference. The briefest repetition is required here. Three hundred and forty-eight people were murdered in Baltimore in 2019."

According to court documents, the AIR program data "shall be expunged from BPD records once every criminal prosecution which relies upon information or evidence obtained or derived from the AIR program is final, and the direct appeal of all such prosecutions has been exhausted or rendered untimely."

To read the full court records, look below: