ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- The CEO of aerial surveillance company Persistent Surveillance Systems returned to St. Louis Thursday to present his crime-fighting proposal to Mayor Lyda Krewson, Police Chief John Hayden and Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards.
The company has offered to use St. Louis as a test market for their product, which would use aerial surveillance technology tied to the city’s 9-1-1 alert system to take images of a crime scene and track people and cars that came and went from the area.
Supporters of the plan say it's needed to curb the violence, but critics say it's a "massive expansion of government surveillance."
On the steps outside City Hall, protesters gathered to voice their displeasure with the program.
“I completely understand the crime issue is important and needs to be solved [but] we think money that would eventually go to this type of program would be much better spent building communities, jobs and healthcare,” said John Chasnoff with Privacy Watch St. Louis. “We think those are the root problems of crime.”
Ross McNutt is the CEO of Persistent Surveillance Systems, and he has told the city's public safety committee that the video not detailed enough to identify individuals from the air.
But the argument doesn't fly with critics.
“He has tried to be reassuring but we're not convinced by his arguments at this point,” said Chasnoff. “They can track you do your home and follow you from there.”
The opposition also cited concerns minority neighborhoods would be disproportionately targeted.
“I'm out here because I think this is going to directly criminalize more and more black folks, increase rates of incarceration of black folks, increase black folks killed by police,” said Jae Shepherd with Action St. Louis. “We need jobs. We need to further our educational system which is messed up. We need safe housing, healthcare. Those are the things that make us safe, not air police.”
But Cedric Redmon, the youth ambassador with City Hall, supports the plan. He brought his own bullhorn to the protests to counter the arguments of those speaking against the plan.
“If they don't want no more police officers then we have to find a way to help police officers use the resources that they have,” Redmon said. “If you want to build trust have to get criminals off the street that's the way to fix this thing.”
McNutt had an hour-long presentation with city officials Thursday.
Following the meeting, Krewson released a statement, saying:
“We are always open to listening to any proposal that may be used to deter and solve crime.
The presentation was informational, but there are numerous privacy concerns that would have to be addressed first.”