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Baltimore Aerial Surveillance Cut Some Crime, Didn't Help Clearances

Like many major cities, Baltimore sees more than of half its murders go unsolved. In hopes of clearing more violent crime cases, the city started a program in 2020 that combined manned flights with additional investigative resources to collect surveillance over large areas. Last June, a federal appeals court ruled that the program was unconstitutional as RAND researchers studied its effectiveness, reports The Trace.


The study found that it was unlikely that the program improved clearance rates for targeted crimes like shootings or homicides, but did likely help reduce armed carjackings when surveillance planes were flying, and reduced the rate of armed robberies. “Our results imply that high resolution, persistent aerial surveillance has the potential to deter crime,” the authors wrote, “but meaningful benefits on clearance rates for cases targeted by the program were not found in the Baltimore trial.”

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