In response to the January 6 Capitol riot, US Capitol Police will begin employing military surveillance equipment used by the Army in what the Washington Times described as part of "sweeping security upgrades" as the force transforms into "an intelligence-based protective agency."
Upgrades will include eight 'Persistent Surveillance Systems Ground - Medium' (PSSG-M) units, which provide HD surveillance video and includes night vision. According to the Pentagon, it does not include facial recognition.
"This technology will be integrated with existing USCP camera infrastructure, providing greater high definition surveillance capacity to meet steady-state mission requirements and help identify emerging threats," said the Pentagon.
The technology allowed U.S. troops fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to monitor large areas 24/7 through extremely high-resolution cameras.
Some privacy rights advocates have raised concern that Capitol Police are getting into the business of spying on Americans.
In a wartime application, the persistent surveillance units were mounted on tethered blimps. The data could be stored, combined with sensor data from other platforms, and later referenced or rewound to track individuals or groups.
The military could use the system to develop “pattern of life” analyses on suspected enemy combatants or intelligence targets in war zones. It could determine, for example, who was responsible for placing an improvised explosive device. -Washington Times
According to a 2016 Government Accountability Office report, the Department of Homeland Security leased the same, or similar technology through the Department of Defense.
Few details were provided to the Times about the new system - such as how and where it will be deployed, or whether collected data will be stored or disseminated - or whether it will be shared with other agencies.
"Hopefully, you can understand it wouldn’t be smart of us tell the world all our capabilities," a Capitol Police official told the Times.
The Pentagon says the Army will install the units and provide training to the Capitol Police to operate and maintain the system. Once installed, the Army won't have any role in operation.
Read the rest of the report here.