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Police Departments’ New Tools: Drones

Published on Friday, January 20, 2012 by Common Dreams


Police Departments’ New Tool: Drones


– Common Dreams staff


Drones are no longer just part of the military’s arsenal of tools. Police departments across the U.S. are getting them too


With financial help from the federal government, police departments across the country are marshaling a new generation of remote-controlled airborne surveillance devices to be their eyes in the sky.

The Miami-Dade Police Department now has drones ready to use. NBC Miami reports:

The Miami-Dade Police Department finally stands ready to launch their two micro air vehicles, or MAVs, the next time a shooting standoff or hostage situation could use a bird’s eye boost, more than two years after getting the drones.

“It has no weapons,” said Sergeant Andrew Cohen, one of the county’s 12 pilot officers. “It’s just a camera, basically a flying camera.”

The potential far-reaching surveillance has the ACLU sounding the need for caution:

“Our privacy laws are not strong enough to ensure that the new technology will be used responsibly and consistently with democratic values,” warns the ACLU report, Protecting Privacy From Aerial Surveillance. “We need a system of rules to ensure that we can enjoy the benefits of this technology without bringing us a large step closer to a ‘surveillance society’ in which our every move is monitored, tracked, recorded and scrutinized by the authorities.”

“There can be a very lucrative market in the United States for drones in police departments who are already militarized – from tanks to assault vehicles to assault rifles, flap jackets, the helmets,” John Whitehead [a constitutional attorney from the Rutherford Institute] said. “The modern police look like the military so now they are going to be using military equipment.”


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