California Sheriff’s Dept Wants Surveillance Drone To “Track Suspects With Guns”

Friday, October 19, 2012
By Paul Martin

Civil rights Activists, Attorneys, fight back

Steve Watson
Oct 19, 2012

A county Sheriff’s department in California wants to buy and deploy a surveillance drone, in a move that would make it the first law enforcement agency in the state to officially deploy technology previously used to hunt insurgents in Afghanistan.

Sheriff Gregory Ahern of Alameda County says he wants a 4-foot wing span, 4-pound drone, armed with a live camera, to assist with search and rescue missions, bomb threats, SWAT operations, fires and natural disasters. The department’s policing purview includes Oakland and Berkeley on the east side of San Francisco Bay.

The device can also be fitted with thermal imaging devices that would allow police to see inside buildings, as well as license plate readers and laser radar.

“We would use it for specific events, not to patrol the unincorporated areas of the county looking for whatever,” Sgt. J.D. Nelson of the sheriff’s office told the LA Times. “This would be the same kind of drones that are being used by some news agencies today.” he added.

However, the Sheriff has angered residents and civil liberties groups by suggesting that the $50,000 to $100,000 drone would also be used to hunt for marijuana farms, and “track suspects with guns,” referring to such operations as “proactive policing.”

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