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12-11-11, 08:54 AM #1
Police use Predator drones to pinpoint suspectsArmed with a search warrant, Nelson County Sheriff Kelly Janke went looking for six missing cows on the Brossart family farm in the early evening of June 23. Three men brandishing rifles chased him off, he said.
Janke knew the gunmen could be anywhere on the 3,000-acre spread in eastern North Dakota. Fearful of an armed standoff, he called in reinforcements from the state Highway Patrol, a regional SWAT team, a bomb squad, ambulances and deputy sheriffs from three other counties.
He also called in a Predator B drone.
As the unmanned aircraft circled 2 miles overhead the next morning, sophisticated sensors under the nose helped pinpoint the three suspects and showed they were unarmed. Police rushed in and made the first known arrests of U.S. citizens with help from a Predator, the spy drone that has helped revolutionize modern warfare.
But that was just the start. Local police say they have used two unarmed Predators based at Grand Forks Air Force Base to fly at least two dozen surveillance flights since June. The FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration have used Predators for other domestic investigations, officials said.The drones belong to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which operates eight Predators on the country's northern and southwestern borders to search for illegal immigrants and smugglers. The previously unreported use of its drones to assist local, state and federal law enforcement has occurred without any public acknowledgment or debate.
Congress first authorized Customs and Border Protection to buy unarmed Predators in 2005. Officials in charge of the fleet cite broad authority to work with police from budget requests to Congress that cite "interior law enforcement support" as part of their mission.But former Rep. Jane Harman (D-Venice), who sat on the House homeland security intelligence subcommittee at the time and served as its chairwoman from 2007 until early this year, said no one ever discussed using Predators to help local police serve warrants or do other basic work.
Using Predators for routine law enforcement without public debate or clear legal authority is a mistake, Harman said.
12-11-11, 08:00 PM #2
Now, if only they would authorize the use of Helfire Missles!!!
Car 4I would like my country back. I used to believe that one man could never destroy this country. Not so sure anymore!
12-11-11, 09:04 PM #3
There may be some legal issues with using military assets for domestic policing I suppose, but I'm definitely no expert.
From a 4A standpoint, though, I don't see the big deal. It's no different than air support via helos, isn't it?"If anything worthwhile comes of this tragedy, it should be the realization by every citizen that often the only thing that stands between them and losing everything they hold dear... is the man wearing a badge." -- Ronald Reagan, in the wake of the deaths of 4 CHP troopers in the Newhall Incident, 1970
The opinions given in my posts DO NOT reflect the opinions, views, policies, and/or procedures of my employing agency. They are my personal opinions only, thereby releasing my agency of any liability, or involvement in anything posted under the username "121Traffic" on O/R.
12-13-11, 01:20 PM #4Chief Wheaties PisserVerified LEO
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The only possible/sorta/kinda/tin foil hat level of issue is the use of .mil assets by local LE. However, that has been negated in recent years. I point to rescue operations in our own mountains using reserve STS teams from Portland.
As to the use of drones, no different than helo operations in many urban areas. When helicopters were starting to see use in LE, the same sort of arguments were being put out there. Naturally, they didn't apply.
If a drone can be successfully used at a much cheaper cost that flying a helo, then it should be considered.
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