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Public defenders begin combing through cases after aerial surveillance discovery

Attorneys at the Maryland Office of the Public Defender have begun combing through dozens of recent criminal cases in search of any link to the city's aerial surveillance program. (WBFF)

BALTIMORE (WBFF) -- Attorneys at the Maryland Office of the Public Defender have begun combing through dozens of recent criminal cases in search of any link to the city's aerial surveillance program.

On Wednesday, a Baltimore Police Department spokesman acknowledged the use of several aerial cameras that began rolling on a 30-square-mile area of the city nine months ago.

"The only people who should be concerned are criminals," said BPD spokesman T.J. Smith at the Wednesday news conference.Later that evening, BPD Commissioner Kevin Davis released a statement saying the department was testing the equipment in an effort to enhance public safety.

However, defense attorneys believe the program, which went undisclosed for nine months, violates a person's constitutional rights.

"It is surveillance technology by which there was no judicial authorization," said Assistant Public Defender Daniel Kobrin.

Like the recent challenges of hundreds of other cases in which police used stingrays to track suspects without warrants, defense attorneys believe the city's use of aerial surveillance equipment amounts to the same violation.

"They will use the excuse, 'Oh, it's out in public, it's no big deal,'" said defense attorney Margaret Mead. "Well, all of us have this expectation of privacy."

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