Sitting at the intersection of criminalization and capitalism, the use of emerging surveillance technology has become increasingly popular among police departments in the United States over the last few decades. While public knowledge is still catching up to the full extent of the tools that police use, we are quickly understanding more about this technology each day. Adopted for use as police “reforms,” sophisticated electronics and tech capabilities do not address the unchecked power and ballooning budgets of local police departments. Instead, they open the door for law enforcement to monitor communities while private companies profit from sales and contracts. As the movement to defund the police becomes impossible to ignore, replacing police officers with police cameras is called progress.
Living in a “surveillance state,” however, is not a foregone conclusion. Organizers across the country are pushing back against intrusive and problematic surveillance technologies by providing program models and model legislation to disrupt 21st Century Policing and ensure awareness and meaningful interventions. This report presents an overview of ongoing trends in police surveillance and the funding streams that have made and continue to make these trends possible. It also highlights ongoing advocacy efforts and provides recommendations for pushing back against the use of such technology by law enforcement.