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Police Monitors: Chronic Offenders. Then Offenders. Then Pre-Offenders.

Written by Gary North on November 15, 2014

Here is the #1 law of economics: “When the price falls, more is demanded.”

The technology of police surveillance keeps getting cheaper.

Los Angeles police are increasingly relying on technology that not only tells patrol officers where crime is most likely to occur but also identifies and keeps track of ex-cons and other bad guys they believe are most likely to commit them.

Police say the effort has already helped reduce crime in one of the city’s most notorious and historically gang-ridden neighborhoods.

“This is a tremendous step forward. Without this, I couldn’t do my job,” said Capt. Ed Prokop, head of the Los Angeles Police Department division that watches over the grimly nicknamed “Shootin’ Newton” area.

The program — part data collection, part lightning-fast computer platform, part street-level intelligence-gathering — is expanding in LA with the help of a recent federal infusion of $400,000 and has drawn interest from departments across North America.

Dubbed LASER for its ability to zero in on offenders and hotspots, it is one of many newer law enforcement tools that use data tracking and collection — such as license plate scanners and cellphone trackers — often with little public knowledge or regulation.

We can see where this is headed.

The gangs still operate. Crime is still high. Most crimes are limited geographically: those areas of town where middle-class people do not live, or even visit. But in the name of fighting crime, new technologies of surveillance are being developed. They are getting cheaper.

A mere $400,000 federal grant got this new technology installed in Los Angeles. This is a test case. It will soon set a precedent. Cheap.

Next step: a Supreme Court case against profiling.

Next step: “Then everyone must be profiled. It’s the law.”

Am I exaggerating? Think “TSA.” Think of searches of grandmothers in airports. “Potential terrorists.”

The large police departments can commission public opinion surveys.

“Are you in favor of more crime?”

“Well, now that you put it that way. . . .”

“Are you in favor of racial profiling?”

“Well, now that you put it that way. . . .”

“Do you think we should use technology to fight crime?”

“Well, now that you put it that way. . . .”

Here is how it works.

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