Western Massachusetts Surveillance Technologies

This has been written in August 2020 by Trevor Eckhart to the best of my understanding based on public records requests, linked under the Name column below.

Using the EFF’s Atlas of Surveillance project as a starting point – I set out to verify what warrantless surveillance technologies were in fact still being used in the Pioneer Valley & Western Massachusetts. I plan to document frequency of use and offer a comparison between several local western Massachusetts police departments. While technology can be used to assist the need for strong privacy laws are critical.

More information on Surveillance Technologies used by each Western Massachusetts town is linked under each “Name” column below. If you have an issue with your town being on this list – make sure your voice is heard. Contact City Council, Police Chief, your representatives whatever branch they may be in should be hearing these complaints. If you are unable to do so, please contact me – even anonymously – and I will make sure your message gets heard.

This table is my findings, current as of August 10th, 2020.

NameAutomated License Plate ReadersDronesRing
Agawam PoliceDoes NOT use Automated License Plate TechnologyDoes NOT use DronesDoes NOT use Ring
Chicopee PoliceUses Automatic License Plate TechnologyUnknownUses Ring*
Easthampton PoliceNo PoliciesNo PoliciesNo Policies
Northampton PoliceDoes NOT use Automatic License Plate Technology4 Drones

97 Flights since 2018
Does NOT use Ring
Southampton PoliceNo RecordsNo RecordsNo Records
Westfield PoliceUnknownAt least 2 Drones

37 Flights since 2018
8 Requests in 2020
* Chicopee Police is listed on Amazon Ring’s Blog as having an active contract. In my original request in July, they denied having a contract. On 8/19/2020 I have been provided with a contract, signed 5/27/2020.
Northampton Drones

Below is what I believe should be the minimum required for laws:

  • Police drones should not be flown in places where privacy is expected without a warrant.
  • Drones should never be deployed during protests or demonstrations.
  • Drones should never be weaponized.
  • Homeowners who pay for a security service should not have their recordings accessed without a warrant.
  • Facial Recognition, Automated License Plate readers and similar are inaccurate & used to profile and harass. The use of these technologies should be banned. The very idea that people could be profiled for having a similar thought or just for being in an area is offensive. Citizens should never be detained due to a computer’s identification.

Unfortunately this is currently a pipe dream in most of Western Mass.
Contact your representatives today to change this.