Previous   Next

Do you think police should be able to use high-tech hidden surveillance equipment at music festivals?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on September 15, 2006

Browse the archives

Photo of Ashley Tippin

“No. I think it’s an invasion of privacy. Just because you’re in public doesn’t mean they should be able to spy on you.”

Photo of Bobby Pineda

“No, they should not. If they see it, they see it. If they don’t, they don’t. It should be plain sight only.”

Photo of Marilyn Domann

“Yes, for the protection of the people who are attending the event. So they can relax, enjoy themselves and know that they’re safe.”

Photo of Andrew Shaw

“I would say no, unless there is a threat of violence. I don’t think that nonviolent criminal activity warrants undisclosed surveillance.”

Related story


Kuku_Kansas 9 years, 2 months ago

"...describes the roughly $250,000 worth of hidden-camera, night-vision and thermal-imaging equipment..."

Maybe I'm underestimating the crowd, but was there even $250,000+ in drug value there?

Richard Heckler 9 years, 2 months ago

Absolutely not. Think what they could at tailgate parties as fans prep themselves. Think about the DUI's that could be gathered after setting up check points before and after football and basketball games. Ever heard of discrimination.

Is it okay to break DUI laws simply because it is a KU,Royals or a KC Chiefs function?

KS 9 years, 2 months ago

Why not? It is done in a public area. I don't understand why someone thinks that everything they do in the public should be priate. That is why it is called PUBLIC! You want privacy? Go home!

nrt 9 years, 2 months ago

Yes, from someone that has been to the festival every year, I found it a little out of control. There was definitely a need for more surveillance (cameras or bodies). I know people disagree with electronic surveillance but, this is a growing problem at the festival and needed to be resolved. The local and surrounding police departments did a great job this year, and this was associated to the cameras.

KS 9 years, 2 months ago

blue73harley - Put your tent or RV on public property and I would expect that you would lose some of what you consider to be privacy rights. I wasn't there either, but if a cop pulls you over on a public street, I think they have the right to use their flashlight and peak into your window to see who and what is going on inside the car, no?

KS 9 years, 2 months ago

Keep your tent or RV on private property and I agree. Get into the public arena and it is different. They are looking into the tent for supicious reasons too. It's their job. It's not apples to oranges.

jayhawks71 9 years, 2 months ago

Criminal activity... give me a break! This War on Drugs has become the biggest farce in the history of this country. The War on Terror comes a close second; at least terrorists are somewhat dangerous.

The idea that you have an expectation to a "right to privacy" in public is, of course, incorrect. However, that does not mean that you should be under constant surveillance when you are in public. You SHOULD have a reasonable expectation of minimal privacy invasion and that you should be able to move about freely, unless you are threatening or harming another person; it is for this determination that the MINIMAL invasion standard should apply. People smoking dope in a park are VERY LOW on the threat scale. Classic government overkill.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 9 years, 2 months ago

"Just because you're in public doesn't mean they should be able to spy on you"

If you are IN PUBLIC, then how is it SPYING? Next time I'm walking down the street and someone looks my way, I'm going to say "stop spying on me"?

This equipment allowed them to do the work the exact same kind of work that they would have been doing anyway IF they had been able to employ enough people to effectively cover the whole festival. Six cameras did the work of 100 cops. We are all upset because it was "technology" instead of ears and eyes. If we could have had enough cops on the ground, those same weed-smokers would have been caught by cops using their noses instead of using a thermal camera.

I'm always surprised at how many people think that these drugs should be illegal, but that at the same time believe that the cops shouldn't enforce the drug laws. "It's bad, but let's not arrest anyone for it."

Larry 9 years, 2 months ago

Yes - let them do their jobs in the most efficient way possible. Why do we always want to protect the people breaking the laws and make the job of our police force more difficult. Plus - it isn't like the investment would only be used at this music festival. The comment about the amount of drugs at this festivals compared to the cost of the equipment is ridiculous. It isn't like the police department is going to pack away this equipment and say "geez - I guess we don't need that for another year"! Of course, comments like this are pretty much the standard in the LJW discussion board. Spin the truth enough to make the topic of discussion seem ridiculous. That's the blue county of Kansas way of life.

sgtwolverine 9 years, 2 months ago

Maybe they should use high-tech hidden surveillance equipment on candidates for office. Keep an eye on their fundraising.

Sacerdotal 9 years, 2 months ago

"I hate Notre Dame."

My son, the Irish are God's team; shame on you; may Touchdown Jesus reach down and slap you upside the head next time you visit the golden dome..............

webmocker 9 years, 2 months ago

"I'm always surprised at how many people think that these drugs should be illegal, but that at the same time believe that the cops shouldn't enforce the drug laws."

You (and others here) might also be surprised at how many law enforcement folks think drugs should be legalized:

jonas 9 years, 2 months ago

Anyone who manages to get busted for drugs at a concert, with or without a 1/2 dozen apparently very efficient cameras (85%? hahaha yeah right!) deserves to do time. Should the police be able to do this, yeah, I can't see why not. I think, however, if the goal is to actually REDUCE the amount of drugs at the concert, they should announce the cameras' existence before hand, so folks don't bring their drugs in the first place. Of course, if the goal is to give over-grown boys new toys to play with, or to give the I-hate-deviants crowd something new to cackle over, then it doesn't really matter.

However, to do this regularly, without donated equipment, would be an extra 6250 dollars per extra busted drugee. (Going by O-Bob's figures of 40 non-MIP arrests). And that's assuming there were NO previous arrests the previous year. How many people here want to shell out over $6000 to put one pot-smoker or seller in the slammer?

Larry? Bowhunter?

sgtwolverine 9 years, 2 months ago

TOB, my boys have had trouble winning away from home these last few years. This one will be tough. But we're underdogs, which helps. And really, most football fans who aren't ND fans hate ND. It's like NFL fans hating the Cowboys or something.

Funny: one ESPN columnist picked ND to win by one point (31-30) because of the "ND mystique."

Sacer, I would have thought you would have used "Golden Dome" as a reference to baldness.

Incidentally, my brother is actually going to ND's law school. He said he's getting funny looks at his Michigan football shirt.

monkeywrench1969 9 years, 2 months ago

$250,000 worth of equipment. What's the problem, people claim the cops need to get out of the "stone ages" and get with reality then they do and now they are upset becasue they are catching up with the advancements to catch people breaking the law no matter how minor.

I have to agree with Old Enuf in they set up cameras and the cameras could cover more area than the out numbered cops. I think the biggest beef most of the folks may have is if you are caught on camera and the activity is recorded, the bad guys or "minor law breakers" can't claim the cops were "dirty" and "trumped up charges..."

How many deaths occured this year at the fest compared to 2005...none. If they used everything at their disposal to reduce the possibility of serious drug and alcohol use it is worth the money.

How can anyone think being in public allows you privacy, if you walk into a store with cameras you are recorded, if you go to an ATM you are recorded, if you go into a bank you get recorded, if you are walking downtown and someone has a camera phone there is a good chance that person may record you if you do something goofy...illegal or otherwise...if you check out people are recording stuff in public and private all the time

The problem is the People getting caught on camera at the Wak Fest thought they were in "Real World" not "Cops"

Janet Lowther 9 years, 2 months ago

Absolutely not.

The purpose of police is to prevent crime, which they do by being present. Obviously present.

Hanging out in a trailer watching monitors from secret cameras is not good police work. It may result in arrests and convictions, but it does nothing to prevent real crime.

Of course suppressing commerce in proscribed substances is a poor use of police resources. . .

jonas 9 years, 2 months ago

blue73: There's only one commandment that you need to remember.

"Don't be a mean ol' jerk."

bangaranggerg 9 years, 2 months ago

I hear that the recorded video of all the nudity and sex acts that were caught on tape by the cops was edited into a short film called "drug nut busts"

GOPConservative 9 years, 2 months ago


"There is CRIMINAL activity going on, therefore they should be able to use whatever means necessary to HELP YOU... and by YOU I don't mean the people breaking the law."

Right on! Maybe we should put cameras on every farm to make sure none of those horrible plants are growing on them. We need to stop this horrible CRIME from happening in the first place.

We also need to install cameras in EVERY motel room in the State to catch underage sexual activites, sodomy, etc. That kind of activity is even more criminal than smoking pot.

While we are at it, the IRS should install cameras in every church to make sure the church is not being used for political purposes.

I think I'll write to our fabulous Attorney General, Philll Kline, and suggest his use of this new technology in his important work.

Brother GOP

Grundoon Luna 9 years, 2 months ago

I wonder how many rapes, robberies, child molestatinos, murders, burglaries, or other violent crimes that equipment is going to prevent? It seems they aren't doing much to prevent that. They have to go after the re-e-e-e-ally dangerous criminal: The pothead. In your vehicle you have some expectation to privacy. I believe the courts would cnoclude you have that in your tent or RV as well.

TOB!! If I could, I'd vote for Kinky. Hum a few bars fo "Flyin' Down the Freeway" for me!! And I think the "Sold American" theme just as if not more applicable than it was in '76.

cylus 9 years, 2 months ago

Cracking down on illegal drugs is fine, but this is bad publicity for the City of Lawrence. Sure the City may have made money from all of the fines issued, but they will lose all of the taxes, etc. that visitors spent in the City going to restaurants, grocery stores because they will not want to come here to the music festival again.

beatrice 9 years, 2 months ago

Macon: "any crook or doper is disappointed when they are caught and arrested. PLUS it is NEVER their fault the crooks think they have more rights than people that do not choose to break the laws. boo hoo. call the aclu"

Funny, but you just described your superhero, Rush Limbaugh.

I'm not surprised by such surveillance, and this explains why I tend to avoid such "festivals." The boot-jack security is too much, but the acceptance of this by so many doesn't surprise me. We now live in a country that allows the invasion of privacy of average citizens (wire-taps) and the torture of our enemies, all in the name of "safety."

Finally, Macon, will you be as accepting of this surveillance technique when they arrest you for illegally smoking inside your own business after hours? Hey, its the law so, you need to be punished. I'm sure you would also love cameras on every street, and every time you speed you get a ticket in the mail. The law is the law. You are either for us or against us.

TBird 9 years, 2 months ago

I missed something because I am actually working, but Notre Dame Football is only second to GOD. Period.

sunflower_sue 9 years, 2 months ago

I'd be interested in seeing the actual $#s that the Waka fest brings in. Does anyone have a link or are privy to this info?

Bone777 9 years, 2 months ago

This was a good salesman doing what he does best.

The salesman let the cops use his demo cameras and he got a big article in a trade magazine. Trade magazines are great places to sell things.


Bone777 9 years, 2 months ago

Sunflower_sue $500,000 in fast food $500,000 in junk food $30,000 in zigzag papers $4 in soap

gccs14r 9 years, 2 months ago

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

Sounds straightforward to me. Keep your electronic nose out of my tent.

Shelby 9 years, 2 months ago

Bone-- you win the funny award for today

jonas 9 years, 2 months ago

"$500,000 in fast food $500,000 in junk food $30,000 in zigzag papers $4 in soap"

Having friends over to watch "Half Baked" and a Cheech and Chong marathon. . . priceless?

shuddleston 9 years, 2 months ago

Need some of those cameras off Mass St. There is more drugs in Lawrence in a city block than anything at Clinton that day. lol

Linda Endicott 9 years, 2 months ago

Some of you guys have made the comment in the past, since the smoking ban, that smokers should just be able to wait for a couple of hours and stop whining.

If weed isn't addictive, then why do people have to do it at any festival or any other event? Why can't they just wait til they get home?

sunflower_sue 9 years, 2 months ago

crazyks, I guess it's kinda like when most people go to a ball game, they want to have a beer and a hotdog. It's the setting.

$4 on soap? Really, that much?

afred 9 years, 2 months ago

If you throw a frog in boiling water, it'll jump out.

But if you put a frog in cool water, and slowly heat it to boiling, the frog is cooked alive.

Is it warm in here?

beatrice 9 years, 2 months ago

bowhunter: "or our mother is raped ..." Well, I don't see why you are soft-peddling this. Come on, why not step up and go for some real scare tactics. Fear sells, so you must make it more fearful than simple "mother rapers." Why not toss in a couple of children into the fray -- even children with disabilities. Really little ones, and don't just say one drug addict, but make it a gang of roving drug addicts who go from town to town buying and selling drugs, and then raping and pillaging. And their next stop -- YOUR HOME TOWN!!!! The only clear way to stop them is through massive amounts of survellaince. Especially at music festivals, because people get all hyped up listening to the devil's music and all they can think about is raping mothers and children. Everyone knows that!

You see, if you are going to try to sell fear, then you must make it really scary, and a single mother-raper just isn't that scary in today's world. What the heck, let's not forget to point out that most drug addicts are also cannibals.

blackwalnut 9 years, 2 months ago

This is fascism. We have arrived. All in the name of fear.

Where is the outrage?

blackwalnut 9 years, 2 months ago

Bowhunter 99 said: "As soon as one of you get attacked or your mother is raped by some drug addict that bought drugs downtown in front of you, you will sue everyone within a 5 state area claiming that the City, State, county, and (of course Bush) are not doing enough to protect you....:

Speak for yourself. There is a limit to how much fascism I will endure in the name of safety.

Life is filled with risk. Right now the biggest threat, in my view, is the destruction of the Constitution and our civil rights by the Bush administration.

You won't miss your freedoms until it is too late.

gphawk89 9 years, 2 months ago

To answer the original question: YES.

Considering the recent technological explosion (namely night vision, thermal imaging, UWB radar, miniature web cameras, cellphone cameras, E911 cellphones, OnStar, RFID tags on everything, face recognition, etc.) we can throw any expectations of privacy out the window for good. And it's in no way just government agencies doing it. Think about it.

gphawk89 9 years, 2 months ago

Someone made a remark about the next thing being unmanned drones flying overhead watching us. That's already here. Police departments in several large cities are already using them to spy on drug deals.

beatrice 9 years, 2 months ago

tob: What can I say? People apparently want to have a battle of wits, but then show up empty handed. What am I suppose to do, let 'em skate? I think not.

beatrice 9 years, 2 months ago

prospector, enjoy that beer - wish I were theer. (sometimes changing the spelling helps when attempting to rhyme.)

Smarmy_Schoolmarm 9 years, 2 months ago

Posted by Bowhunter99

As soon as one of you get attacked or your mother is raped by some drug addict that bought drugs downtown in front of you, you will sue everyone within a 5 state area claiming that the City, State, county, and (of course Bush) are not doing enough to protect you....

I'm not quite certain why drug addiction and rape are even together in the same sentence here? What does one have to do with the other? Do you know any alcoholics Bowhunter? Are they all rapists? This is just silliness.

justthefacts 9 years, 2 months ago

To those who think this was a breach of privacy rights - you need to go to law school before opining on legal issues; you may "FEEL" that it's a violation of privacy, but the current case law on privacy rights, and current statutes on "eavesdropping" etc do not recognize such use by the police to be a violation of anyone's privacy rights. If you are out in a public place (and an open camp ground could hardly be more public) you can expect that people (including the police) will be watching what you do!

Debate the secret use of the (Free to city police) equipment to look over public areas all you want. It is a good policy issue to debate. But the facts are that it was used ONLY in public places (not showers or bathrooms or private tents) and there is no recongized legitimate expectation of privacy when you are out in public. Google "Police surveillance cameras" and take a look at all the places where it is commonly done (Malls, the entirety of the United Kingdom, Chicago streets, etc.).

sunflower_sue 9 years, 2 months ago

Have you ever wondered why businesses (including banks) have such crappy surveillance cameras? And why do they position them so that they will only get a photo of the top of your head?

News at 10: "If you recognize this person..."
News watcher: "Well, that grainy ball cap looks familiar..."

I definitely think cameras have their place. It's that one time that they catch the really bad dude that we appreciate them. I don't feel threatened by being watched in the police, that is.

davisnin 9 years, 2 months ago

I would like to know the retail petty theft numbers versus any new tax revenue from the period. Whenever some jam band came to Sandstone when I was a kid, the Walmart got jacked by all the hippies (they need that pan-handled spending cash for weed).

kansaskev61 9 years, 2 months ago

Only if the event is in Lawrence. The People's Republic of Douglas County has a LOT to hide!

kansaskev61 9 years, 2 months ago

and....If you ain't got nothin' to hide, then it shouldn't be a problem! I love having my picture made!

conservativepunker 9 years, 2 months ago

Yes. Don't do the crime if you can't do the time. Festival goers know what is against the law. They're taking the responsibility of breaking the law. Shut up and die like an aviator, for Chrissake!

beatrice 9 years, 2 months ago

"If you ain't got nothin' to hide, then it shouldn't be a problem!" Spoken like a true Russian commrade. So sad. I bet you have no problem reporting on your neighbors, either.

davis: real hippies don't steal. You must have encountered wanna-be hippies. Those are the followers who now have short hair and call themselves conservatives. These are the same folks who would make Janis Joplin then AND Barry Goldwater now roll over in their graves.

roger_o_thornhill 9 years, 2 months ago

This town needs high tech gear to bust DRUNK DRIVERS. I am reluctant to even leave the house on the weekend after 10 pm (keep in mind that the weekend in this town seems to start on Thursday night). It is dangerous enough to drive in this town during the day, but you're asking for it to be on the road during the "drunk hours". I always wondered how so many folks can get away with it.

traci_lords 9 years, 2 months ago

Speaking from experience....

Deputies, you better destroy those copies of the surveillance tapes you know you made and passed around.

Did you get an age verification affidavit signed before recording?

Recording and possessing and passing around video of 2 17 year olds boffing in a tent using thermal imaging devices is punishable by 5-30 years for recording it and or passing it around to your friends , 2-10 years for possessing it.

You will lose your law enforcement job, and spend time in jail.

Destroy it now.

gccs14r 9 years, 2 months ago

"...current case law on privacy rights, and current statutes on "eavesdropping" etc do not recognize such use by the police to be a violation of anyone's privacy rights. "

Funny how many rights have been lost after 25 years of Republican court-stacking. The People will wake up someday, but it'll take generations to undo the damage.

shorttrees 9 years, 2 months ago

I think this is one of the scarier parts of the article:

"He declined comment on whether the cameras covered the festival stage areas or campground areas outside the festival."

If they weren't covering those areas with their cameras "capable of seeing at night as long as there's some ambient light nearby such as a lantern or fire" then why decline to comment? Why not just allay peoples' fears and say "No". Did they (as someone else commented) get a load of X-rated material? Did they record activity in that area and don't want to risk the lawsuits filed if it was found out? Or did they get evidence of someone powerful enough to put a thumb on them? It just makes one wonder....

fcraig 9 years, 2 months ago

T. Lords-How do you know they were 17? Was it you in the tent?

goodguy24 9 years, 2 months ago

WOW, lots of responses to this subject. Sure Drugs are Bad, but I know there are a lot more deaths cause by the abuse of alcohol than say, marijuana. Who knows what else they could see with those infrared, etc. It is a total issue of privacy, but you have to remember also htat you are on public property. If they really wanted to step it up a notch, they should have drug sniffing dogs go around each and every car before allowed to enter... even then there are so many other drugs a dog can't detect. One of my friends I recently talked to said @ Waka this year, they were smoking a fat joint outside a tent in broad daylight, and what do you konw- the cops show up. My friend had big glass bottles of har liquour and beer, and the cops let them keep puffin' away, but they had to get rid of they bottles. hmmmm.....

Commenting has been disabled for this item.