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17 September 2006

Flying Monkeys on Shakedown Street * In Kansas, the Future Begins Last Summer

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Shakedown Street is a song and album by The Grateful Dead, about a big-city downtown neighborhood that's fallen into economic, social and crime decay -- but which still rocks, despite all its troubles.

Nothing's shakin on Shakedown Street
You know it used to be the heart of town

Don't tell me this town ain't got no heart
Cause I can feel it beat out loud

A tornado swept Dorothy and her dog Toto to Oz from her aunt and uncle's farm in Kansas. In Oz, Dorothy, Toto and their friends were abducted by Flying Monkeys who worked for the Wicked Witch of the West.

In a Cheech and Chong movie, the now-banned hypnotic pill Quaaludes are called "Disco Biscuits."


Lawrence Journal-World (Kansas USA)
Friday 15 September 2006

Police used high-tech
surveillance at festival

Hidden cameras helped in drug busts

by Eric Weslander

Hidden, high-dollar equipment helped police crack down on drug dealing at this year’s Wakarusa Festival.

A new article in a trade journal, Government Security News, describes the roughly $250,000 worth of hidden-camera, night-vision and thermal-imaging equipment used by police throughout the festival grounds. The equipment was courtesy of a California company that agreed to give a free demonstration of its wares for marketing purposes.

The company estimated that they were able to cover 85 percent of the festival grounds with about a half dozen hidden cameras. One camera, for example, was mounted atop a light tower and used on "Shakedown Street," a bustling area viewed as a problem spot for drug dealing.

"It’s hopefully a win-win for everybody except the crooks," said Mike McRory, vice president of business development for NS Microwave Inc., of Spring Valley, Calif., which markets security and surveillance equipment and is owned by the defense contractor Allied Defense Group.

The company builds "covert" cameras disguised as everything from electrical boxes to birdhouses. They’re capable of seeing at night as long as there’s some ambient light nearby such as a lantern or fire.

‘Nobody knew’

Four of its cameras were "consistently deployed" throughout the festival, and at least two others were there to be used as needed, according to the company. The cameras were controlled by a computerized command center in a 21-foot trailer that was parked atop a hill in the middle of a Frisbee golf course inside the park.

What do you think of the high-tech methods
used to keep tabs
on Wakarusa Festival lawbreakers?

* They're an invasion of privacy

* They're a good way to keep the park safe

* No opinion

See the results without voting

"Nobody knew," said Kevin Danciak, the company’s Midwestern sales representative. "It just looked like parabolic dishes on top of a trailer."

The plan to use the cameras came about when Danciak ran into Clinton State Park manager Jerry Schecher at a Kansas narcotics officers’ meeting early this year or late last year. Danciak was there to promote his equipment. Schecher was looking for answers to growing concerns about drug dealing at the festival, which was heading into its third year and was growing in popularity.

Had there not been a strong move this year by law enforcement to control the situation, Schecher said, the state would not have allowed the festival to continue.

"This is a crowd that has a high expectation of privacy and freedom, and I respect that, within limits,"
Schecher said. "I struggled with this a little bit, but I felt like we were doing it for the right reasons. If it was meant to be Big Brother and spying on people, I wouldn’t have done it."

One festivalgoer said the hidden cameras were "a shame and kind of embarrassing.

"I feel like it was really a big mistake because people at a festival are trying to have a good time and let loose. I would be willing to bet that most people wouldn’t be OK with that had they known," Ali Mangan said.

She said law enforcement should have at leased publicized the hidden cameras. The surveillance was conducted at the expense of the privacy of people not selling drugs, Mangan said.

More about the Wakarusa Music Festival

* 6News video: Music festival security featured hidden cameras
* Plea reached in music festival drug case (09-07-06)
* Government Security News: Surveillance at concert makes drug dealers sing (09-06-06)
* Suspect drops claim from Wakarusa Fest (08-05-06)
* Counterfeit drug charge dropped for festivalgoer (07-29-06)
* Suspected dealers gave up $10,000 in drug taxes during Wakarusa festival (07-19-06)

Safer means

The main things the cameras captured, Danciak said, were hand-to-hand drug transactions and drug use. After zooming into an area where drug sales were happening, police could then send an officer in to make an undercover buy that was caught on camera.

"We could see if there was a problem and then address it rather than just having to focus all of our foot patrols or enforcement in that area all of the time," Schecher said.

Danciak said the result was a safer way of busting drug deals.

"No fighting, no running, no guns drawn, nothing," he said. "It was just, ‘You pop around the corner, you’re there, you identify yourself and you see people just deflate.’"

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

At least a month before the festival began, Schecher said, promoter Brett Mosiman was notified of the plan for security cameras. Mosiman did not return phone calls Thursday seeking comment.

The cameras’ presence was not publicized in the Lawrence area before or after the festival.

The article in Government Security News said the images produced were so good that some alleged dealers entered pleas based on the strength of that evidence. But District Attorney Charles Branson, whose office is charged with prosecuting the cases, said he did not know of any cases in which that happened.

Many of those arrested at the festival were allowed to plead to lower charges in a massive docket call a few days after the hearing.

Police seized more than $11,000 in suspected drug money, but some of that came outside the festival grounds in a Kansas Highway Patrol checkpoint.

Lt. Kari Wempe, of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, the lead agency at the festival, said the camera system worked well.

"It gave a good overall aerial view of the grounds, which we would not have had otherwise," she said.

But so far, she said, the sheriff has no plans to buy any of the company’s equipment. Schecher said he would like to use a similar system at the park in the future, perhaps for catching people who try to break into pay stations, but not necessarily for next year’s festival.

"Kevin has nice toys, but they’re expensive," he said.

- 30 -

* Staff writer George Diepenbrock contributed to this story.


From the GSN article:

"The equipment included hidden wireless cameras, periscope viewers, night vision image enhancers and a 21-foot command trailer housing one of the most sophisticated control platforms on the market. It provided a safe and effective way for law enforcers to oversee 85 percent of the parkland occupied by the Wakarusa Festival."

"When law enforcement officials viewed the surveillance monitors in the command trailer, they were surprised to discover that the NS Microwave system was showing details never expected. On viewing screens, the equipment displayed a dramatic array of illegal activities, including extensive drug dealing, use of vehicles to store dealers' narcotics and dealer-to-mule transactions."

"Our purpose in going to the Wakarusa Festival was to demonstrate our equipment in a natural setting," recalled Mike McRory, NS Microwave's vice-president of business development. "It helps drive our engineering better, and it yields better feedback from our customers. You get many 'Aha!' moments, when customers can actually see and feel the equipment in use."


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Posted by Marion (Marion Lynn) on September 15, 2006 at 12:35 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Big Brother is watching.

Can we at least set aside personal differences on this matter?



Posted by lunacydetector (anonymous) on September 15, 2006 at 2:55 a.m. (Suggest removal)

perhaps the concert promoters can lease similar equipment for law enforcement to use next year.

Posted by spym00se (anonymous) on September 15, 2006 at 3:55 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Perhaps some people just want to go into the woods, smoke pot, and listen to music. I'm no hippy, but damn this is a bit much.

Posted by scetwe (anonymous) on September 15, 2006 at 4:04 a.m. (Suggest removal)


for an alternative solution

Posted by Kuku_Kansas (anonymous) on September 15, 2006 at 5:47 a.m. (Suggest removal)

"...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?

Posted by hilary (anonymous) on September 15, 2006 at 6:13 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Maybe they should put cameras up at 11th and Mass so people stop getting SHOT and BEATEN up at 2am. I guess catching drug deals at a music fest is just a little more important.

Posted by Pogo (anonymous) on September 15, 2006 at 6:15 a.m. (Suggest removal)

The larger question is:


There is NO reason to NOT assume they're in use right now right here in Rivercity. Are they looking into your open windows?

Posted by davisnin (anonymous) on September 15, 2006 at 6:15 a.m. (Suggest removal)

*tear* poor busted druggies. all they want to do is whatever they want, whenever they want. whats wrong with that.

Posted by smitty (anonymous) on September 15, 2006 at 6:32 a.m. (Suggest removal)

** night-vision and thermal-imaging equipment..."**

Erotica vision and hot tent action-imaging equiptment.

Posted by merrill (anonymous) on September 15, 2006 at 6:37 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Carrying Homeland Security a bit far I would say.

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 or basketball games. Sports fans smoke reefer too cuz it's fun. Ever heard of discrimination.

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

Posted by The_Original_Bob (anonymous) on September 15, 2006 at 6:40 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Sounds like more lies and damn lies from the gov.

"The article in Government Security News said the images produced were so good that some alleged dealers entered pleas based on the strength of that evidence. But Dist. Atty. Charles Branson, whose office is charged with prosecuting the cases, said he did not know of any cases in which that happened."

I'd like to thank Branson for his honesty.

6 cameras to cover 85% of the festival grounds? I may be a bit hazy on my covert espionage, but I call BS. WIth all the trees, RVs, large tents, nooks, cranies, etc... these 6 cameras would have had to been far above the tree line. The festival grounds are huge.

Posted by logrithmic (anonymous) on September 15, 2006 at 6:49 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Welcome to the "WAR" on drugs. Our tax dollars being used to hurt us. Most of this weaponry was used against marijuana, a non-addictive hallucinogen that is not a narcotic. The law must be changed and it is up to us to do it.

Remember folks, nicotine is an extremely addictive substance, on the level of heroin. It is legal. It has its pushers - the tobacco industry and the government. It is also a deadly habit, killing almost a half million a year.

Marijuana is not physically addictive. But it is a threat to the present establishment. I have no doubt that the Pentagon, back in the sixties, conducted tests and determined that it made men less likely to be violent, and this is why it is illegal. I have no proof of this, but this is what I believe.

You cannot overdose on marijuana. You don't feel like fighting. And you don't feel the need to indulge every minute, as smokers do. And while smokers complain if they are unable to get their fix while eating or in bars, and have sued to get their way, marijuana? You're not fee to indulge in the privacy of your own home.

This is wrong and we need to legislate against it. Break the propaganda! Change the law!

Start with decriminalization in Lawrence, then Douglas County. Also support medical marijuana initiatives as it is well documented that marijuana mitigates the pain brought on by cancer and other diseases.

Posted by merrill (anonymous) on September 15, 2006 at 6:52 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Here is a company that is looking to push it's way into public arenas under the guise of public safety. They are on the Bush payroll in Iraq and Afghanistan at $1000 per day. Our soldiers don't receive that kind of money. Heard about this on radio news yesterday.

In spite of their new picture and claims of peace keeping are paid mercenaries who are not accountable for their actions. Allied is an influential defense contractor. Marion got it right it is definitely BIG BROTHER big time. Why? They love your bundles of government tax dollars. This picked up about $70 million while hanging around Katrina for a few short weeks.

Where did the expensive funding come from for this operation?

Posted by The_Original_Bob (anonymous) on September 15, 2006 at 6:56 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Here is a visual on the 6 cameras covering 85% BS:

If you are familiar with Clinton Lake State Park... The ticket office is right near where the main vehicle entrance/check in is and all the way over to the left side of the map is the beach. Someone probably knows exactly, but I'd estimate that is a a coule miles.

Maybe if these 6 cameras were mounted to the space station but, ye gods, they just think we are dumb.

Posted by warthog (anonymous) on September 15, 2006 at 7:17 a.m. (Suggest removal)

So they set up cameras and they caught some folks breaking the law. Isn't that what they're supposed to be doing? If they don't do their job, people bitch and if they do their job, people bitch. Okay, so a drug violation isn't like finding Jimmy Hoffa or the second gunman, but it's called "law enforcement" for a reason. Get over yourselves and quit griping because people get caught doing something that they know is illegal. Anyone that would lie to you, would steal from you, etc. As for the funding, this is not "use once throw away" stuff. They've probably got it in the city parks now, so make sure you pick up your trash.

Posted by bmwjhawk (anonymous) on September 15, 2006 at 7:20 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I hate what this world is coming to. I'm worried about what it will be like 10, 20 years down the road. Will we even be allowed to THINK something that isn't acceptable?

At the very least, If I'm a festival-goer, I'm going to reconsider making the trip to Lawrence, Kansas next year.

Posted by paladin (anonymous) on September 15, 2006 at 7:35 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Is all of this secret spying legally permissible in reference to the Constitution? Or, maybe nobody cares about that. After all, this is just one manifestation of the "war" on drugs, one of our several ongoing, never-ending, fruitless, hopeless wars we are engaged in. Its all for the Public's own good and safety, after all. Democratic freedom and liberty may well be outmoded and things of the past. And, they always were fraught with many dangers. "Anyone that would lie to you, would steal from you, etc." Very true. Try to remember that the next time you go to the polls to "elect" your next "leaders.

Posted by consumer1 (anonymous) on September 15, 2006 at 7:45 a.m. (Suggest removal)

You do it on public land you pay the price. BOOM !!!

Posted by Agnostick (anonymous) on September 15, 2006 at 7:45 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Big Brother is watching drug dealers, just as he's watching terrorist suspects.



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