scales of justice sitting on the desk in front of gave and law books.

What are Police Observation Devices?

Can the police spy on me outside my home

In many science-fiction movies that depict a harsh or dystopian future, the government and law enforcement agencies keep a constant watch on its citizens through robotic eyes stationed around the city. As farfetched and futuristic as this might seem, the city of Chicago has been relying on similar technology for years now.

Police Observation Devices – better known as PODs – have been placed all throughout the city, specifically in areas that were historically high on the crime rate scale. They started off as big blocky cubes hung high on powerlines that needed manual operation from police back at the station. Quickly, however, they become smaller, more discreet, and more intelligent; certain POD models can actually detect gunshots and automatically transmit alerts and images back to dispatch headquarters.

The Future is Here, But Should It Be?

After just the first wave of PODs were installed around Chicago, the police department reported a dramatic decrease in narcotic-related calls from areas in which they were installed. On average, the decrease was as strong as 76%. Interestingly enough, narcotic-related arrests in POD areas declined slightly but shot up 150% in areas adjacent to PODs; this suggests that criminals intentionally left the range of PODs only to conduct violations where patrol officers were now expecting them.

A reported decline in criminal activity seems to be good on every side until you consider what it costs to get it. PODs can be accessed by hundreds, if not thousands, of people tied to the city’s law enforcement agency, including the Office of Emergency Management and Communications. To put that many private, all-seeing eyes into the hands of so many people could be seen as an infringement upon the privacy rights of the people of Chicago.

Furthermore, video footage collected by PODs may be used in criminal prosecution trials. If you are filmed without being told explicitly that you are being filmed, it is usually difficult to submit any resulting video as admissible evidence. And yet PODs are constantly filming without any notification to offenders and seemingly without the same legal constrictions.

If you have more questions about PODs or your rights as someone who has been arrested as a direct result of what a POD allegedly observed, you need to get a Chicago criminal defense lawyer on your side. I, Attorney Mitch Furman, can offer you a free case evaluation with my legal team. Using my 10+ years of experience handling difficult and sensitive cases, I can determine your right choice of action to best defend your rights. Call us at 312.651.4206 today.

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