Militarizing My Town

In a time of economic hardships unseen for generations the Department of Homeland Security are funneling large amounts of federal tax dollars to local police. My town, Wilmington North Carolina, has received multiple grants from DHS (Department of Homeland Security) to increase the ever creeping Police state. In 2009 DHS allocated approximately $250,000 to downtown Wilmington for closed circuit cameras. (1) The cameras are nexus-ed into a larger grid which is accessed not only by police officers in their cars, but also streams live to the ISAAC Fusion Center in Raleigh, NC. (2) The ISAAC Fusion center in Raleigh cost the tax payer over $56 million dollars and has access to a plethora of semi-private information.

More recently the DHS has funded $1.1 million to place ‘gunshot detector’ microphones across the city. (3) When asked by local citizens the police officer in charge of the program refused to tell where the detectors were placed. The ‘gunshot detectors’ are nothing more then powerful directional microphones and are linked into the same ISAAC Fusion center. All the audio which is recorded is ran through a keyword logging program which identifies ‘threats’.

The latest DHS grant has been awarded to Wrightsville Beach, NC for over $160,000. (4) Wrightsville Beach is a small island located next to Wilmington, NC. The town of Wrightsville Beach has accepted a grant from DHS for license plate scanners. Every car that travels over the one bridge onto the small island is scanned. The cameras then send the data through a computer database which checks for warrants, out of date inspections, expired tags and other ‘threats’. The information is immediately sent to patrolling police officers with a picture of the car. The same information is also sent to, yep you guessed it, the ISAAC Fusion Center in Raleigh, NC.

All of the tax paying citizens who fund the police force are being treated as criminals. Our city is being turned into a prison grid where constant surveillance becomes the norm and the founding idea of innocent till proven guilty is forsaken.

Why is the federal government turning the police into a militarized force against the people? Why aren’t the same funds allocated to education, social services or small business loans?




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