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Advancing Drone Tech Could One Day End Up With Police

February 25, 2013 by  

Advancing Drone Tech Could One Day End Up With Police
This thing doesn’t stand a chance against the coming generation of military drones.

President Barack Obama sent military drones to Niger over the weekend to aid a reported counterterrorism mission, led by France, against Islamist rebels in Mali. Different news sources have conflicted in their reports over whether these drones are the kind that can kill you or just do aerial surveillance.

A December 2012 piece by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism looked back at the President’s first-term track record engaging enemies (and, on occasion, U.S. citizens overseas) with military drones. The authors concluded his drone policy has so far been… enthusiastic.

The American military drones now in use — so far as we know — have become a familiar sight. They’re small, stealthy, light. Most of them look like very cool model airplanes. But it’s only a matter of time before they’re completely outclassed.

While we’re talking enthusiasm, listen to this narrator’s zeal as he describes the tiny, deadly, pretty much undetectable new generation of MAVs — Micro Aerial Vehicles — under development by General Dynamics for the U.S. Department of Defense.

“Unobtrusive. Pervasive. Lethal.”

See where this is going?

National Geographic points out that current drones come with their share of problems, most of them related to safety issues that could mar their media image and hamper rapid development and deployment.

But those issues can, at most, only slow the inevitable. Tech improves; manufacturing processes tighten. Like any piece of emerging technology, drones will become smaller, quieter, more reliable, more conserving of energy, more consistent in performance. Their feature sets will expand with little to no downside.

That’s when the fun begins, because, at that point, research and development brains and military hawks will be able to sell their use to the public as “safe.”

What “safe” would mean in that context is “flawless in function.” What it would not mean is “absent the capacity to do harm.”

The civilian consumer tech most analogous, at present, to weaponized micro-drones comes in the form of those little, agile remote-control helicopters that seem to proliferate at Christmastime. Those things can be repurposed, up to a point, with the addition of cameras or incredibly tiny payloads, and it’s not hard to imagine an aspiring bad guy figuring out how to plot a relatively impressive amount of damage using so small a device.

But you can bet government agencies with access to drones will be playing with the expensive stuff, while the technology that trickles down to the public will be unmistakably consumer-grade.

Without question, modern nations long ago passed the point at which citizens had a legal means of acquiring weapon tech commensurate with that owned by their representative militaries. No one has an arsenal of nuclear weapons, Harriers or Virginia-class submarines.

All those weapons aim outward; they’re developed and deployed using citizen funds to guarantee American sovereignty against the aggression of other nations. Even if our leaders have debased that mission, improperly using weapons of war to give teeth to their foreign policies, those abuses have taken place on foreign soil.

But it’s changing.

Through Federal initiatives like the Department of Defense 1033 excess property program, local police departments have begun acquiring the means to set their might far above that of the legally armed civilian. They’re gaining, essentially for free, equipment designed for military use and accessible — until recently — only to American fighting forces.

If the militarization of our Nation’s local police forces continues, the day will soon come when departments that resemble small, technologically privileged armies, will be commonplace. They’ll be better equipped than the law allows any civilian to be.

The Pentagon temporarily suspended the 1033 program last June — not because the line between soldier and cop was getting too blurry, but because of this Arizona Republic story that revealed what can happen when some police departments get their hands on the good stuff.

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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    Seems like a great idea to me to save greatly on the cost of the dangerous job cops endure on the beat. Instead of objecting to it you should embrace it imo. And why not employ your ex- servicemen in police roles when they return instead of letting them fend for themselves? With a short corse on fill in the gaps in their justice education I’m sure they will do better than your current crew of dictatorial police forces. Would be a good mix for police forces though I’m thinking they were safer in Afganistan than some of your southern states. Comments invited obviously.

    • Mr Diesel

      This posted from a country that the citizens let take their rights to own firearms.

    • ibcamn

      Aussie,trust me when i say,if you had to deal with the police as they are,you would not say any of that babble you just spewed!the police in this country are the largest legally armed gangs and one of the most inept!

      These police officers assist the gov’t in constantly violating the American peoples rights,and carrying out terrible crimes against those people!one of the worst is of course assassination,which has repeatedly been caught on video,yet hardly ever has a cop been brought to justice or even taken off of the force,even with video evidence!!so don’t tell us to embrace a f#*king thing!!

      • Darwan Winkler

        Well, ~ confess ! ~ Policing and enforcement keeps the criminal element at bay and in check. ~ If they didn’t , you and I’d would be having to defend ourselves and be shooting someone every stinking day. ~ I don’t enjoy killing people ~ even sorry people. ~ So as a society we have commissioned the task to trained professionals that are “suppose” to preform to professional accepted standards, ~ while we know ~

        Nothing is perfect ! ~ Police included.

        This is but a tool and subject to abuses and misuse ~ as all tools are.

    • MNIce

      Our southern states are for the most part quite safe – the citizens are well-armed. It’s the big cities in the northern states, and in liberal-controlled states near the Mexican border that are dangerous.

      Our first President, George Washington, said, “Government, like fire, is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” The notion of unscrupulous politicians with the use of small, quiet assassin drones is rather grim to contemplate.

    • Texas Ride

      I think it is very hard for people from small countries to get a grasp on what this huge country is about.

      Australia has 21 Million residents compared to our 350 Million residents.
      The problems that come with our large poplation are unique to this country. We have way too many people with conflicting ideologies, so that not much works well. U.S. citizens used to be “of one mind” and pretty much agreed on how things should be. With the progressive tools of Tolerance, Diversity, Political Correctness and enforced Multiculturalism, we are a country torn apart. The more our country is “balkanized” the worse off we will be and the more tyrannical government will become.,

      BTW, as we speak Australia is now trying to take away the privilege of rifles being kept for “hunting.” I think Aussies have their own problems to resolve as they will soon be completely disarmed, even the “hunters.”

  • Bob666

    Big Brother will be watching.

  • http://yahoo cole johnson

    the drones are already in use with police! One department was forced by the citizens to give it back! the police were upset! something they claimed about no recovering all their expenses! should have thought of that sooner! I am al for making an EMP gun and dropping them from the sky!

  • Mike

    Drones have already been used to see a criminal in the USA! North Dakota to be precise.

  • http://none pissed of conservative

    looks to me like they would be fun to shoot out of the sky..

  • Chester

    Mr. Johnson, your EMP “gun” would knock out not only the drones you detest, but every civilian and/or military aircraft anywhere near where you fired it. That electro-magnetic pulse is NOT a directional beam to be aimed where you please, but an outward radiating flash of energy. That is why everyone fears some rogue country setting off a nuclear explosion fifty or a hundred miles above the surface of the earth. The EMP from that explosion would eat a LOT of solidstate electronics not previously hardened against such an event. If you want to be known as the man who killed a few planeloads of civilians, keep on working on that idea.

  • Neal

    Can you imagine the mayhem and destruction if LA area cops had had a Predator a few weeks ago? There would be smoking craters everywhere a Toyota pickup was spotted!

  • http://google gary gerke

    It will be fun shooting these little drones down periodically as we come across them!

  • Vicki

    And here is an article about an ad to sell these to law enforcement.

  • Dallas Miley

    The 2nd amendment was added the Constitution to allow the people to defend themselves against a repressive government. With Obama pushing for his drones, what next. Who stands to gain the most if our Muslim president succeeds in destroying the 2nd amendment, the Muslims that are trying to destroy all of our rights. You know that the only way this man was elected & reelected was by those who commit the majority of violent crimes voting for him. When the law abiding citizen losses his 2nd amendment rights, it’s not only the Muslims that advance their objective, the lawless win everything they need to do as they please. The law cannot protect us from criminals, there’s way to few officers to even be able to try.
    DGM (retired state LEO)

    • Bob666

      Yo Dallas,
      What color is the sky in your world?

      You do know that the only thing that stops a bad guy with a drone is a good buy with a drone?


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