American Police Forces Plan To Arm Domestic Drones

If American police forces start using unmanned aerial drones to attack citizens, does that by definition make the United States a police state? Report by Hannah Yi for The Daily:

As a Texas sheriff prepares to use an unmanned drone as his force’s eye in the sky, and perhaps even arm it with nonlethal weapons like Tasers and rubber bullets, civil liberties groups are crying foul.

In the coming weeks, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office north of Houston says it will deploy a $300,000 ShadowHawk drone — bought with a federal homeland security grant — to spy on criminals, support SWAT operations and look for missing persons.

The unmanned helicopter is about the size of a large dog, has a range of 25 miles and can be operated for 11 percent of the cost of a manned helicopter, according to the ShadowHawk’s manufacturer, Vanguard Defense Industries.

A spokeswoman for the American Civil Liberties Union said the sheriff’s office’s 50-pound device is part of a worrying rise of unmanned surveillance by police…

While McDaniel said the department has no interest in loading lethal weapons systems onto its ShadowHawk, he said the sheriff’s office was open to the idea of adding non-lethal weapons like tear gas, rubber bullets or Taser-style rounds to the drone.

“Those are things that law enforcement utilizes day in and day out and in certain situations it might be advantageous to have this type of system on the UAV,” he said. McDaniel said the department had no specific plans do so but, even so, civil libertarians like Bokenkamp called the possibility of a Taser- or tear-gas-wielding police drones “really frightening.”…

[continues at The Daily]


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16 Comments on "American Police Forces Plan To Arm Domestic Drones"

  1. Gregory Wyrdmaven | May 24, 2012 at 9:02 am |

    This is much ado about nothing…we’ve been a police state for a LONG time.  Making it illegal to not wear a seat belt?  We should have protested then.  The erosion of our rights simply continues until we realize we have no rights except those we are allowed to have, and even then, only if we behave ourselves.

    Welcome to Post-Freedom Uhmurkah.

    fiat lux

  2. “I….had…the tase of my life…and I owe it all to U(SA)”

  3. Drones in America need to be banned except by court order.  Sorry police state advocates, but the risks and anti-america agenda to push for ease of spying and policing is morally reprehensible.   The US ought never become a battleground like this.

  4. Helifreak | May 24, 2012 at 11:18 am |

    $300,000!!! I could have made a better one for less! 

    BTW the range is only 15 miles, 24 kilometers, not 25 miles.

    ShadowHawk Specs: 
    Dry Weight: 49lbs (16 kg)
    Overall Length: 86 in (218.4 cm)Height: 29.8 in (75.7 cm)Width: 17 in (43.2 cm)Rotor Span: 76.5 in (194.3 cm)Usable Load: 22 lbs (10 kg)Cruising Speed: 35 mph (56.3 kph)Max Speed: 55 mph (88.5 kph)Max Range: 15 miles (24 km)Fuel Endurance: Turbine 45 min/Piston 3.2 hrs. 

    I actually have an RC helicopter myself, a Trex 700e 3Gx which can fire missiles that will explode on contact with their target. 😉 One of my most fun projects! 
    I can guarantee my heli is more maneuverable and I’m sure rubber bullets, tear gas, and a taser are not going to win against an extremely maneuverable heli that shoots missiles traveling at 600 ft/s.  The police hopefully understand there are hobbyists out there (like myself) who have spent much less money on RC helicopters, quadcopters, and octocopters that could easily knock that ShadowHawk drone out of the sky. Not to say I would actually do it, but some people might, if provoked.Drones can be made by civilians which have HD camera’s, telemetry, GPS, etc.. And they can be easily armed! I’m just saying, the police are not the only ones with toys.     

    • Calypso_1 | May 24, 2012 at 1:22 pm |

      How bout an RC heli that fires a net gun.  Let their little chicken hawk taser its way out of that.

      • Helifreak | May 24, 2012 at 2:32 pm |

        Interesting concept! 

        The net would have to be made out of a very strong material though. Possibly 550 cord or Kevlar. Those heli blades could easily chop a nylon net to pieces. 

        It would also be much easier to aim a net shot than a barrage of unguided missiles. 

        I might just get working on that.

    • If you have electronic plans/specs/blueprints for your Trex and the missile system, please provide a link.

      I’m very interesting in acquiring those plans – for academic purposes only, of course.

    •  Have you had yours 15 miles out?  I don’t think you have. Standard range is right at 3.5 miles, less than 10 with signal booster.     More agile?  Ya, a trex is more agile however I don’t think that will matter much.    The best way to mess one up would be signal jamming, not sure what it would take but that would be a much easier approach.  

      And ya, they spent too much to do what a hobbyist can do for less than 5k. not including guns.

      It is a federal offense to fly beyond line of sight, ie: FPV (first person view) can do that.  It is also a federal offense to fire anything from a RC aircraft of any kind.

      Google RC heli and you’ll find all kinds of web sites to learn about this stuff.  I also have plenty of RC helis with flybar and flybarless.      What is funny is that the drone is not flybarless, you can get a ready to fly MCPX for less than 200 bux with controller.   You would barely be able to lift a mouse but the 3 axis gyro system is something they don’t have on their 300k drone.  I matters, makes a big difference

  5. eruditeogre | May 24, 2012 at 11:30 am |

    What makes me uneasy is the casual way that the sheriff talks about the wide, taken-for-granted use of all sorts of crowd-dispersal technology. Because policing is now more about control than protection.

  6. The first duty of the police is to protect the public not the police, when will arse holes like this character stop turning normal citizens into the enemy.
    It is all another bleed the taxpayer dry scam $500,000 per model helicopter because you will only ever need one ‘er’ wait what, how about when it is serviced, crashes or is shot down. Well the ok 2 per year, because the military consider them disposable, which is why they use a cheap drone. So thats now a million dollars per year, plus undisclosed maintenance and operator cost, someone has to fly it.
    Lets not forget stormy weather, I’ll bet the Shadowhawk works best with the new lard arse fair weather cops, who can only be seen cruising on fair weather days.
    Then there is that whole issue at flying at low altitude in metropolitan areas with tons of radio interference and intervening structures and whoops crashed into a bunch of kids at 70 mph, there goes a few more million dollars.
    Why does the have the smell of more to do with the latest high profit technology scam rather than being an invasion of privacy.

  7. I don’t really have a problem with this, in principle. The police already have helicopters. Does it really make much difference if they have a different, unmanned model? 

    The real issue is just getting them to use the resources they have to protect, rather than bully and harass, the public. 

  8. $300,000.00 huh?

    That’s an awfully expensive clay pigeon.

  9. Just like duck hunting | May 24, 2012 at 11:03 pm |

    I imagine a good ol’ fashioned shotgun could probably do quite a bit of damage to one of those.

  10. zehRocketeer | May 25, 2012 at 12:21 am |

    Okay, I just have to ask, did any of you think about the city scanners from half life 2 while watching that? Because I sure did.

  11. I”m sick of hearing police officers talk about their safety.  Sorry pal, you signed up for a dangerous job.  You do not have the right to infringe on my rights in the name of your safety.    Don’t like the dangerous job?  Get a different job like I did.        They will shoot your dog in a raid regardless if they are a threat or not, they say it’s for safety but it is about fucking the person over to the maximum. There is one member on the raid team that it is their job to kill the dogs.  Doesn’t matter if they are a threat or not. 

    Fuck them!  their job is getting more dangerous and it is by their own doing.

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