Drone industry representatives claim unmanned spy craft would have saved lives

Steve Watson
Feb 13, 2013

Drone industry lobbyists have cynically seized upon the Christopher Dorner standoff with San Bernardino police, saying that if they had used UAVs, lives would have been saved.

Dorner is believed to have shot at least two police officers and killed one of them during the gun fight.

“Had a [drone] been able to be used in that environment, who knows what could have happened,” said Peter Bale, chairman of the board for the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International,

Speaking at the organization’s annual program review in Virginia, Bale insinuated that privacy advocates were to blame for lives lost because they have “pulled the FAA into uncharted territory” by opposing the widespread roll out of drones.

“We believe the FAA should focus on their core mission, which is safety,” he said. Approval of further drones has been “delayed many months because the FAA is being pulled into the privacy debate.”

“We believe this technology can be used responsibly, in accordance with existing law,” Bale added. “Many people don’t know a [drone] was used during the hostage situation in Alabama last week.”

It is possible that the drone lobbyist was attempting to offset negative press stemming from a newspaper report Monday, which erroneously claimed that Dorner would be the first American to be targeted with surveillance drones on U.S. soil.

As we reported, the story led to a social media freak-out, with Twitter users expressing fears that armed drones had been authorized to assassinate Dorner.

Last week, CNN’s Erin Burnett raised the issue by asking whether or not it was right for law enforcement to use drones in the hunt for the fugitive.

Even if drones had been used to hunt Dorner, it would not have been the first time. In 2011, police used a Predator surveillance drone against a family in North Dakota who were accused of stealing six cows.

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