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Police Used High-Tech Surveillance at Festival

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    [FONT=&quot]Hidden Cameras Helped In Drug Bust[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]Hidden, high-dollar equipment helped police crack down on drug [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]dealing at this years Wakarusa Festival.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]A new article in a trade journal, Government Security News, describes [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]the roughly $250,000 worth of hidden-camera, night-vision and [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]thermal- imaging equipment used by police throughout the festival [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]grounds. The equipment was courtesy of a [/FONT][FONT=&quot]California[/FONT][FONT=&quot] company that [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]agreed to give a free demonstration of its wares for marketing purposes.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]The company estimated that they were able to cover 85 percent of the [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]festival grounds with about a half dozen hidden cameras. One camera, [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]for example, was mounted atop a light tower and used on Shakedown [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Street, a bustling area viewed as a problem spot for drug dealing.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]Its hopefully a win-win for everybody except the crooks, said Mike [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]McRory, vice president of business development for NS Microwave Inc., [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]of [/FONT][FONT=&quot]Spring Valley[/FONT][FONT=&quot], [/FONT][FONT=&quot]Calif.[/FONT][FONT=&quot], which markets security and surveillance [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]equipment and is owned by the defense contractor Allied Defense Group.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]The company builds covert cameras disguised as everything from [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]electrical boxes to birdhouses. Theyre capable of seeing at night as [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]long as theres some ambient light nearby such as a lantern or fire.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]Nobody Knew[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]Four of its cameras were consistently deployed throughout the [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]festival, and at least two others were there to be used as needed, [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]according to the company. The cameras were controlled by a [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]computerized command center in a 21-foot trailer that was parked atop [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]a hill in the middle of a Frisbee golf course inside the park.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]Nobody knew, said Kevin Danciak, the companys Midwestern sales [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]representative. It just looked like parabolic dishes on top of a [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]trailer. The plan to use the cameras came about when Danciak ran into [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Clinton[/FONT][FONT=&quot]State Park[/FONT][FONT=&quot] manager Jerry Schecher at a [/FONT][FONT=&quot]Kansas[/FONT][FONT=&quot] narcotics [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]officers meeting early this year or late last year. Danciak was there [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]to promote his equipment. Schecher was looking for answers to growing [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]concerns about drug dealing at the festival, which was heading into [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]its third year and was growing in popularity. Had there not been a [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]strong move this year by law enforcement to control the situation, [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Schecher said, the state would not have allowed the festival to continue.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]This is a crowd that has a high expectation of privacy and freedom, [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]and I respect that, within limits, Schecher said. I struggled with [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]this a little bit, but I felt like we were doing it for the right [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]reasons. If it was meant to be Big Brother and spying on people, I [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]wouldnt have done it. One festivalgoer said the hidden cameras were a [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]shame and kind of embarrassing. I feel like it was really a big [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]mistake because people at a festival are trying to have a good time [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]and let loose. I would be willing to bet that most people wouldnt be [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]OK with that had they known, Ali Mangan said.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]She said law enforcement should have at leased publicized the hidden [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]cameras. The surveillance was conducted at the expense of the privacy [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]of people not selling drugs, Mangan said.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]Safer Means[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]The main things the cameras captured, Danciak said, were hand-to-hand [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]drug transactions and drug use. After zooming into an area where drug [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]sales were happening, police could then send an officer in to make an [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]undercover buy that was caught on camera.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]We could see if there was a problem and then address it rather than [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]just having to focus all of our foot patrols or enforcement in that [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]area all of the time, Schecher said.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]Danciak said the result was a safer way of busting drug deals. No [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]fighting, no running, no guns drawn, nothing, he said. It was just, [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]You pop around the corner, youre there, you identify yourself and you [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]see people just deflate.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]He declined comment on whether the cameras covered the festival stage [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]areas or campground areas outside the festival.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]At least a month before the festival began, Schecher said, promoter [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Brett Mosiman was notified of the plan for security cameras. Mosiman [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]did not return phone calls Thursday seeking comment.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]The cameras presence was not publicized in the [/FONT][FONT=&quot]Lawrence[/FONT][FONT=&quot] area before [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]or after the festival.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]The article in Government Security News said the images produced were [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]so good that some alleged dealers entered pleas based on the strength [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]of that evidence.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]But Dist. Atty. Charles Branson, whose office is charged with [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]prosecuting the cases, said he did not know of any cases in which [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]that happened.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]Many of those arrested at the festival were allowed to plead to lower [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]charges in a massive docket call a few days after the hearing.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]Police seized more than $11,000 in suspected drug money, but some of [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]that came outside the festival grounds in a Kansas Highway Patrol checkpoint.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]Lt. Kari Wempe, of the Douglas County Sheriffs Office, the lead [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]agency at the festival, said the camera system worked well.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]It gave a good overall aerial view of the grounds, which we would not [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]have had otherwise, she said.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]But so far, she said, the sheriff has no plans to buy any of the [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]companys equipment. Schecher said he would like to use a similar [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]system at the park in the future, perhaps for catching people who try [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]to break into pay stations, but not necessarily for next years festival.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]Kevin has nice toys, but theyre expensive, he said.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]----------------------------------------------------------[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Source: [/FONT][FONT=&quot]Lawrence[/FONT][FONT=&quot] Journal-World (KS)[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Author: Eric Weslander[/FONT]

Comments

  1. bman1
    That’s is horrible!!!! Swib wonders when other festivals will start to do this in order to look good to the LE. Hopefully the Wakarusa Festival will not be as bid next year. Spread the word!!! 1984 sucks
  2. Riconoen {UGC}
    *insert 1984 reference here*
  3. turkeyphant
    Hopefully next year everyone will learn their lesson and boycott this festival. This sort of surveillance is simply unacceptable.
  4. Nagognog2
    Nothing like those little green lasers for frying low-light camera gear. $250,000 worth, eh? Sizzle.....
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