Company using surveillance in the air to help police fight crime

Posted at 6:00 AM, Jun 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-28 06:28:05-04

With increasingly cheaper surveillance popping up on lampposts, buildings and traffic lights, a new piece of sophisticated aerial surveillance has arrived during a time when people are now used to being recorded.

"The murder is actually going to occur here in this alleyway, these are 3 cars and the murderer, in their last pre-murder meeting," said Ross McNutt, creator and CEO of the Community Support System, as he explained the process of how he uses his system to catch criminals.

"This is a protection car in the yellow, this is your shooter in red, this is a getaway car in the red, and this is another protection car in blue," he said as he went through the map, breaking down the crime scene video frame by frame.

A surveillance plane flies 25,000 feet in the air, high above high-crime neighborhoods to film everything below, then the technology lets police pull footage after a crime occurs and try to recreate where the perpetrators came from on their way to the scene and where they fled to afterward.

McNutt created the tool while he was in the Air Force and it was first used in Iraq, but now he's brought it to the US for civilian use and it's the only one of its kind.

"What our objective was in Iraq, was to be able to follow people to and from the IED explosions to see who was planning the bombs," he said. "We can capture up to 32 square miles of the city."

In cities like Compton and Baltimore, the system has helped police catch criminals almost immediately after the crime is committed.

"We can identify the people that were at the scene of a major crime, typically violent crime," McNutt said.

But not everyone, like Cleveland's Art McKoy from Black Man's Army thinks it's a good idea.

"It can be very scary when it comes to the privacy of ordinary citizens," said McKoy.

Community leaders and the ACLU in some of these cities say the surveillance is based on profiling, focusing only on inner city neighborhoods.

"The inner city, the black community, has been burned by these cameras so much," he said.

But McNutt stands by his mission.

"There are too many people in our inner cities being shot, killed, murdered and we felt this system could help solve what would otherwise be unsolvable crimes," he said.

News 5 reached out to Cleveland police to see if they will bring their system to Northeast Ohio, they said they have not heard of the program before and have no plans to utilize it anytime soon.