Oakland, a hotbed of political activism, may serve as the model city for the deployment of police spy drones, Ars Technica reports:
Since Congress passed legislation in February ordering the FAA to fast-track the approval of unmanned aerial vehicles (i.e. drones) for use by law enforcement agencies, police and sheriff departments across the country have been scrambling to purchase the smaller, unarmed cousins of the Predator and Reaper drones which carry out daily sorties over Afghanistan.
California’s Alameda County (which encompasses Berkeley and Oakland) has become one of the central battlegrounds over the introduction of drones to domestic police work. Earlier this year, County Sheriff Gregory Ahern raised the hackles of local civil libertarians by declaring his intention to purchase a drone to assist with “emergency response.”
Were Alameda County to purchase a drone, it would set a precedent in California, which has long been an innovator in law enforcement tactics: from SWAT teams (pioneered in Delano and Los Angeles) to anti-gang tactics such as civil injunctions.