Coppers are cheerfully expanding their drone fleets

❝ Speaking at the Drone World Expo…a panel of four law enforcement officers resoundingly approved their use and likely near-term expansion of drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles.

“I really feel that small UAVs are a cost-effective way of enhancing public safety,” Cmdr. Tom Madigan, of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, told an assembled group of mostly fellow deputies and officers. “I hope in the near future we will be able to deploy these out of a patrol car or a fire truck.”

As one of the largest law enforcement agencies in Northern California, with a fleet of six drones that are often loaned out and used on behalf of other public safety agencies from Monterey County to the Oregon border, the ACSO has been busy.

❝ “As of last week, we have deployed 70 real world missions in the last year,” he said. “We have quickly become one of the most active UAV units in the nation, and we’re easily the biggest.”…

❝ For his part, Alan Frazier, a deputy sheriff at the Grand Forks County department, said that with 32 sworn officers serving a largely rural county, having inexpensive drones was a godsend, given that “in our wildest dreams we will never be able to have [conventional] air support.” (His department, in a county with a population of about 66,000, now has a fleet of five drones.)

❝ The Peace Garden State has become one of the nation’s hubs for the drone industry, with a federally approved drone testing facility, a military drone base, and an active drone studies program at the University of North Dakota. There is even a regular university committee that meets to discuss drone privacy issues.

So, now you have to decide if the cute little buzzer watching over your peaceful demonstration for voting rights or maybe clean water belongs to the local coppers, a newspaper, or some creepy basement-dweller trying for YouTube stardom.

We’ve have plenty of the last for years. Decide how you want to deal with record-keeping of your life from 30 feet overhead. Maybe try to sort out what should be legal, ethical.

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