BALTIMORE — The Baltimore Police Department on Friday released a mid-term report on the controversial Aerial Investigation Research (AIR) Pilot Program.
From May to July 31, the department used 81 pieces of evidence produced by the program in cases ranging from homicides and shootings to armed robberies and carjackings.
Of those cases, 21 percent were closed by arrest compared to 16 percent without AIR support.
During the program's first three months, investigators cleared six homicides, six shootings, four armed robberies and a car-jacking case.
An official finding of the plane's effectiveness still has to be reviewed using Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Standards.
The RAND Corporation, tapped to analyze the data, found that cases with evidence from the AIR program saw an increase in provisional closure rates compared to those cases without it, bud didn't make definitive conclusions on the AIR program’s impact on solvability and clearance rates.
Morgan State University and the University of Baltimore, are still in the process of collecting public feedback on the program.
So far, the department says it's received 63 complaints about the planes, including 43 about noise,17 programmatic concerns and three on pollution.
The department is in the process of defending the program against a federal lawsuit filed by the ACLU. A district level judge has given the go ahead, but the case is now in the hands of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals who heard arguments on Thursday. It's unclear when the appellate court will rule.
“This program is the most far reaching surveillance system ever deployed on American soil and a fundamental threat to our civil liberties both here in Baltimore and around the country,” said David Rocah ACLU of Md. Senior Staff Attorney.
Read the entire report below.