UAVs would also track suspicious vehicles
Paul Joseph Watson
June 27, 2013
St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson has called for the city’s high crime areas to be patrolled by unmanned surveillance drones within a year, in addition to using the technology to track suspicious vehicles.
Privacy rules on using the drones would be drawn from internal police guidelines and the UAVs could be in use by next summer.
“I think the technology is there now domestically for law enforcement agencies to rely on unmanned aerial observation platforms to do a variety of things,” said Dotson, applications which would include tracking suspicious vehicles and spying on high crime areas.
“That’s what we use helicopters for now, I think that’s what we use neighborhood cameras (for)….if you’re in a public space there is no expectation of privacy,” added Dotson.
An ACLU representative responded by labeling the drones, “big brother in the sky all the time….before we get too far with this technology I think we as Americans deserve to know the rules that would protect us from that kind of constant surveillance day in and day out everywhere we go.”
Earlier this week, Senator Rand Paul asked FEMA’s Timothy Manning whether the Department of Homeland Security had given local communities money to buy surveillance drones, to which Manning responded “Senator, no….There have been some grantees that have purchased remote control low-level aircraft, basically . . . what you would think of as a hobby aircraft, that have cameras for monitoring.”
However, it’s openly acknowledged that the DHS is handing police departments across the country hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy high-tech surveillance drones.
In October 2011, the DHS gave the Montgomery County Sheriff’s office $250,000 dollars to purchase the ShadowHawk Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, which was previously used to hunt suspected terrorists in Afghanistan and East Africa. The total cost of the drone was half a million dollars, hardly an amount that can be classed as “hobby aircraft” level.
A promotional video for the Shadowhawk drone, which can also be fitted with an XREP taser with the ability to fire four barbed electrodes that can be shot to a distance of 100 feet., depicts the UAV being used to spy on a private gun sale.
The Department of Homeland Security is also currently developing drones for “public safety applications” at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
Government documents obtained by CNet’s Declan McCullagh detail how the DHS is customizing Predator drones originally designated for overseas military operations “to carry out at-home surveillance tasks that have civil libertarians worried: identifying civilians carrying guns and tracking their cell phones.”
Last year, the FAA rejected an application from the Ogden Police Department to fly an unmanned surveillance blimp at a height of just 400 feet over high crime areas of the city to watch for “suspicious activity,” but the request was rejected due to safety concerns.