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GRPD recruits businesses and residents to conducted surveillance with cameras

August 26, 2019

The Grand Rapids Police Department has a fairly new program, where they are asking businesses and residents to register their security cameras, so the GRPD can expand their reach.

The new program, called citywatch gr, was recently being promoted on the Facebook page of the John Ball Area Neighbors. Someone from the neighborhood association must have received something in the mail, since they took pictures of the material and posted it on the Facebook page.

WXMI 17 also ran a story about the program earlier this summer. In their story they interviewed the owner of Mayan Buzz Cafe, who now has cameras registered with the GRPD, allowing the police department the opportunity to utilize footage from the various cameras located inside the cafe. 

Here is a link to how you can register your security camera with the GRPD. The language used in this program is rather disturbing and is essentially a forum of state monitoring and surveillance that is increasing all across the country.

So what is the big deal? Why should we be concerned with the public sharing footage with the GRPD?

The editors of the book, Life During Wartime: Resisting Counterinsurgency, would argue the following:

A shift in police philosophy, beginning in the 1970s, places domestic policing into a frame of counterinsurgency. Rather than seeking out the perpetrators when crimes have been committed, counterinsurgency emphasizes widespread surveillance and infiltration to identify and neutralize threats before they materialize. Based as it is on a war paradigm, counterinsurgency justifies police action on the basis of intent, suspicion, and association rather then the higher standards of evidence associated with a crime-fighting model. Within the logic of COIN (short for counterinsurgency), civil society is a breeding ground for subversion, crime and terror and must be closely monitored to guard against outbreaks.”

The authors of the book go on to say that, “Counterinsurgency policing exactly complements this conservative agenda by disrupting opponents of corporate power and suppressing the responses of the hardest hit communities.”

The GRPD would argue it wants access to your security camera footage, not just because they might want to find people who are responsible for crimes, but the real reason is so that the cops can potentially undermine the efforts of dissidents, radical groups or groups that they consider to be a threat to the local power structure. Just consider how many examples we have seen recently, where someone from the public caught on camera officers with the GRPD using violence against black and brown people. One could argue that this new program by the GRPD, to get people to register their security cameras, is a direct response to all the footage that people have taken of the GRPD, footage that demonstrates that the cops are a threat to public safety.

Also, as the private security sector expands, they will stop at nothing to make money by partnering with law enforcement, in what could be considered the surveillance industry complex. A recent example of this is where Amazon is providing free use of their security company Ring, if local police departments will advertise the company’s services. 

To counteract this effort by the GRPD to recruit the public to help them monitor our communities, we encourage people to be involved in a CopWatch program, where the public monitors the activities and behavior of the GRPD.

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