A Cessna 172 equipped with the new aerial law enforcement surveillance system on display at Fox Field in Lancaster, CA August 23, 2012. The camera, which will be used by the Lancaster Sheriff’s Department, can follow a criminal target via visual movement at altitudes ranging from 1,000 to 3,000 feet above ground level, using both visible and infrared images for tracking.(Andy Holzman/Daily News Staff Photographer)
“The city of Lancaster plans to launch a new aerial surveillance system to monitor neighborhoods for crime. The technology, called the Law Enforcement Aerial Platform System, will be attached to a piloted single-engine Cessna. It’s basically a radar system that will give deputies a bird’s-eye view of what’s happening on the ground.
Though the LEAPS camera isn’t as strong as the ones on military drones, it can still zoom in on a person walking on the street from more than three miles away even in the dark.
Some residents and civil rights groups have expressed privacy concerns, but officials assure that LEAPS will not be used to spy on neighborhoods.
The Sheriff’s Department plans to deploy LEAPS for 10 hours a day, at a coast of about $300 an hour. That adds up to about $90,000 per month and more than $1 million per year — a hefty price tag in the cash-strapped city.