Fusion Center Director Attempts to Fend-off a Visit from the Press?

The Declaration’s editors visited the Delaware Valley Intelligence Center again today as part of our investigation into the operations of the “all crimes, all hazards” fusion center located in South Philadelphia. Today’s visit was punctuated by its explicit purpose of compelling the facility’s administrators to produce a privacy policy, or to provide a definitive answer as to the policy’s existence. As the Declaration reported earlier today, although assurances have been made to the contrary, no such policy is available, and this has grave implications for the Constitutionality of the DVIC’s activities.

3-D Image of the DVIC property, using Google Earth

3-D Image of the DVIC property, using Google Earth

We left for the facility at around 4 this afternoon, and, in a move which the editors could only describe as a shocking, somewhat reckless, and transparent attempt to stave off immediate pressure, the Director of the DVIC Inspector Walt Smith relayed to us via a senior intermediary that there was no one in the building this Saturday (the building housing the “24/7, all Crimes, all hazards regional intelligence center), but that he would meet with us this Monday (in our last post we reported that Smith had authorized release of the policy but wanted until Monday to ensure a final draft was provided).

view from the west of the DVIC. Photo by Kenneth Lipp

view from the west of the DVIC. Photo by Kenneth Lipp

The editorial position of the Declaration regarding the privacy policy is that it does not exist until we can publish it for our readers, and we proceeded to the facility. We did find it occupied and asked the security guard to call Building 6, the location given in the DVIC’s address. After a few minutes on the phone, the Imperial Security guard informed us that “They say you need to talk to Inspector Smith, and he says he’s gonna meet with you Monday and I think he’s gonna give you the document or whatever you want – and if you just be patient for a few minutes, I think someone else is about to come talk to you.” And a few minutes later we spoke with Lieutenant S., who asked for a business card, and said he had spoken to Inspector Smith as well, and relayed the same promise of an audience on Monday.

The Declaration can guarantee the public that it will be at the DVIC on Monday.

An explanation has been offered as to why we were able to speak to facility staff even though the Director claimed the building was unmanned – namely, that the Lieutenant with whom we spoke was working at the Real Time Crime Center, a Philadelphia Police operation which is co-located in the DVIC facility.

While this may be technically accurate, the Declaration maintains that it is nonetheless insufficient. The RTCC is closely integrated with the DVIC as a source and recipient of data from video surveillance, and as it is located in the same facility with significant interaction it stands to reason that the privacy policy would be not only be commonly known but likely need to be mutually referenced. Viewed under a lens tempered by close to a year of inquiry with multiple opportunities for explanation, it is a simple statement of categorical fact, irrespective of a policy’s actual existence, that deep concern is not undue, given the inability or unwillingness to address it by attaching a document to an email and hitting send. The contact information for the Declaration and its editors, it can be assured, is available to authorities.

 

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About Kenneth Lipp

Kenneth is a writer and researcher. He’s from Alabama, and will not apologize for it. He moved to Pennsylvania in 2012, but has been in love with Philadelphia since a late-night stroll down Ben Franklin Parkway to the Art Museum in July of 2011 with the love of his life. He is interested in telling Philadelphia’s dynamic and absolutely unique stories with the zeal of a constantly enamored newcomer. Kenneth is also passionate about government transparency and protection of whistleblowers, most notably PFC Chelsea Manning. His research and reporting on law enforcement and surveillance have been featured in various publications, including Rolling Stone (Meet the Private Companies Helping Cops Spy on Protesters) and Popular Science (Boston Tested Crowd-Watching Software That Catalogues People's Skin Color). His training is in both genetics and history and he likes the joke about being a helicase and unzipping your “genes.” He’s driven to know, and thinks you can handle, the truth. Follow him on Twitter @kennethlipp.

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