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Weaponizable Police UAV Now Operational In Texas

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the chasing-perps-is-hard-work dept.

Crime 416

crackspackle writes "The Montgomery County Sheriff's Office in suburban Houston, Texas is preparing to launch operations with a newly received Shadowhawk MK-III unmanned aerial vehicle, paid for by grant money received by the Department of Homeland Security. The MK-III is a product marketed for both military and law enforcement applications. Michael Buscher, chief executive officer of manufacturer Vanguard Defense Industries, said this is the first local law enforcement agency to buy one of his units. 'The aircraft has the capability to have a number of different systems on board. Mostly, for law enforcement, we focus on what we call less lethal systems,' he said, including Tazers that can send a jolt to a criminal on the ground or a gun that fires bean bags known as a 'stun baton.' 'You have a stun baton where you can actually engage somebody at altitude with the aircraft. A stun baton would essentially disable a suspect,' he said. The MK-III also has more lethal options available, capable of carrying either a 40mm or 37mm grenade launcher or 12 gauge shotgun with laser designator."

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America (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37878140)

Land of the free, home of the brave.

Re:America (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37878266)

Land of the free, home of the brave.

FROM : The World
TO : USA
OBJECT : Security

Can we assist you in building a 300 ft tall wall that encompasses the entire continental US ?
That way we get to keep the criminals out, and you get to keep the criminals in.

Re:America (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878426)

Also land of thugs who rob and shoot their fellow citizens.

This is Slashdot so nearly everyone hates government and cops, but the cops don't hassle me or steal or rob in my neighborhood.

Re:America (2, Insightful)

Immostlyharmless (1311531) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878672)

"In my neighborhood"

So you're well off and Caucasian? Must be, cause trust me they enjoy fucking with the rest of us.....

Re:America (5, Interesting)

0111 1110 (518466) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878724)

but the cops don't hassle me or steal or rob in my neighborhood.

As someone who was recently beaten up by a cop in a relatively wealthy suburb and then falsely charged with enough stuff to put me in prison (the real America) for a couple of years if the jury believes his lies, it is hard for me to sympathize. American cops are evil thugs. Period. I have lived in a number of third world countries and none of them had cops like we have. In most third world countries 'corrupt' means asking for and accepting small bribes. In the US it means sadistically beating innocent people for the fun of it and then trying their best to put them in prison for getting beat up (cover charges). And there is no oversight. The police police themselves here.

This is how liberty dies. (2)

gottspeed (2060872) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878144)

This reminds me of robocop. PUT DOWN YOUR WEAPON. YOU HAVE TEN SECONDS TO COMPLY. The smaller the minds the bigger the government.

What could possibly go wrong (2, Interesting)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878146)

You have a state that doesn't seem to mind executing people that might be innocent and where there's little concern for courts convicting innocent people in general.

Yeah, those are the people that I'd want to be operating armed drones over my house. Thankfully, I live way away from, Texas, but this ought to scare the crap out of anybody who lives there. Precisely what happens when this thing hits somebody that isn't the intended target? Or how about collateral damage? I don't think that police forces typically arm themselves with grenade launchers in the US>

Re:What could possibly go wrong (2)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878248)

You have a state that doesn't seem to mind executing people that might be innocent, for political points, and where there's little concern for courts convicting innocent people in general.

FTFY

Re:What could possibly go wrong (5, Insightful)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878270)

Precisely what happens when this thing hits somebody that isn't the intended target? Or how about collateral damage? I don't think that police forces typically arm themselves with grenade launchers in the US>

I would expect that that the same rules that govern when the police can pull and fire his weapon would apply here. Also, there's a risk of collateral damage whenever police get in a shootout with a suspect. As in, there are a number of steps a cop must go through in ID'ing the suspect and confirming they have a weapon. And, if they don't, they are usually officially reprimanded, if not prosecuted. Contrary to popular opinion here, the percentage of cops that are corrupt or abuse their power is a very small percentage of the total police force in the US. And, including them, the number of police who actually want to shoot someone is even less.

And actually, police forces in the US have been using grenade launcher-type weapons since the 20s or 30s to deploy tear gas. They have simple 1 shot break action type launchers akin to the M79 from Vietnam, and also multi-round, revolver type ones similar to the MM-1. And it's not just US police that use them, most modern police forces have equipment of this type. Also, many of the multi-round revolver launchers come with bean-bag rounds as well as the standard CS rounds.

Re:What could possibly go wrong (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878326)

There is always that possibility, but you have an officer on site and there's accountability there. And don't forget that innocent civilians aren't typically expecting death from above. What happens if there's a glitch in the system? These presumably aren't going to be fully automated, but you still have the risk of mistakes happening, and people being vulnerable that wouldn't otherwise be vulnerable. You also don't have any information about the scene that isn't specifically accounted for by one of the sensors. Police are far from perfect, but having personnel deployed is a significant advantage if you need to worry about killing innocent civilians.

This strikes me as a significant move towards a fascist dictatorship.

As for grenade launcher type weapons, the summary pretty clearly implied that it was actual grenades. Tear gas is typically less than lethal. Of course I suppose that there is a remote risk of death, like with rubber bullets, but they are intended to be less than lethal, unlike grenades.

Re:What could possibly go wrong (1)

budgenator (254554) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878668)

FTA

Gage said he has no immediate plans to outfit his drone with weapons, and he also ruled out using the chopper for catching speeders.

The people screeching the loudest seems to be pilots, which I'm reading as TV News Helicopter pilots as they are the pilots most likely to be operating in areas with ongoing police operations.

Re:What could possibly go wrong (4, Funny)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878782)

In other news, hackers have released a new version of the BackShadowHawk trojan, capable of taking control of both the ShadowHawk UAV and its' controller's computer. The most impressive feature is the ability to use Amazon's EC2 platform to generate false real-time images that let the controller think they've just bean-bagged a perp when they've really blown up a police car.

Also just in, the Boy Scouts of America have successfully detonated their first nuclear device. "Be prepared" is now taking on a whole new meaning. They don't anticipate any regulatory issues, not only because of their recent victory with extending their "right to bear arms" to include 40 watt plasma rifles or anyone over the age of 8, but because, as one troop master put it "we CAN nuke them - and we're working on the 'from orbit' part."

[ADVERTISEMENT] Target is having a sale on reactive personal armor. The MC Hammer "Can't touch this" 200kva jacket is now 70% off when you buy two or more. Fries muggers and panhandlers to a crisp. Avoids those inconvenient legal complications from "oops, wrong person" moments by not leaving any usble DNA. Batteries not included.

Breaking news: The current president of the United States of Western America has been executed. This makes 17 presidents in 4 years. When he was initially picked by random lottery, he had said that he would not serve, and he has made good on that threat. His last words were "f*ck you all, you're totally ape-sh*t anyway." A new president is being drafted from the ranks of the homeless. In the meantime, the vice-president, who has advanced ALS, drooled when informed that she is now the acting president of the USWA. Residents are being reminded to stay indoors to avoid the draft, because in a true democracy, ANYONE can be president - and this includes YOU!

In related news, citizens refused to remove the "Mandatory Responsible Government Balanced Budget Amendment" from the USWA constitution. Under that amendment, the President is responsible for balancing the budget within 3 months of attaining office, or be executed. "We demand responsible gobbement. And they damn well better not touch my benefits." said one voter.

The country of Texas has announced that it will no longer inter refugees from either the Eastern Confederacy or the USWA - they will be tried and executed by mobile courts hearing cases in the back of a 45' trailer, same as the Free State of Arizona has been doing with Mexicans since before Deconstruction.

[PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT] Relax, citizen. Everything is under control under control under control under control under ...

Re:What could possibly go wrong (1)

t2t10 (1909766) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878408)

You have a state that doesn't seem to mind executing people that might be innocent and where there's little concern for courts convicting innocent people in general.

And which state would that be? I don't know of any such state in the US.

Re:What could possibly go wrong (2, Funny)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878566)

Non-lethal grenade launchers are common, and if there's room modern lethal launchers are respectably accurate.

They'd be a fine way to end vehicular chases where there is room. There's no reason not to kill a fleeing robber who has no hostages.

Re:What could possibly go wrong (5, Insightful)

Dripdry (1062282) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878650)

Wait... wait...
did you just say what I think you said? I want to be sure you meant that, but "There's no reason not to KILL (my emphasis) a fleeing robber if he has no hostages"

Um, maybe you're trolling, but your comment strikes me as exactly what is wrong with some scary mentality that's springing up around our nation: Guilty until proven innocent!
And by the way, slashdotters, this is human behavior at work, so let's not villify too much, let's be pragmatic: People hold their own ideas and perception in higher regard than is typically warranted by facts. This is why courts are in place, to ensure that no one person makes a decision of life and death.

On another note, the idea that killing someone because they robbed a place/person seems abominable IMHO. You'd take their most precious gift just because they took someone's money and/or assaulted them? Granted, they deserve punishment, but you are WAY beyond the pale here, buddy.

I sure hope you're not a cop, if you were I'd report you to the higher-ups I know to do my part in ensuring you either a) get help or b) don't work in a police force anywhere I can help it.

Re:What could possibly go wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37878820)

>There's no reason not to kill a fleeing robber who has no hostages.

There has been since approximately 200bc, when the roman plebeians got the right to seek redress in court. Before that time the patricians of Rome could apply justice more or less as they saw fit, and there were no way of appealing any abuse.

I find it interesting how you trust people wearing uniforms - or togas - by fiat. History would seem to suggest that is a really moronic idea. Just imagine - I could be the one in a uniform.

Shooting you in the groin with bean bags? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37878154)

What the fuck, America?! You now have flying devices that could shoot criminals right in the genitals with bean bags? What the fuck, America?!

Re:Shooting you in the groin with bean bags? (1)

Farmer Tim (530755) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878622)

According to audience surveys there weren't enough nut shots on "Cops".

Re:Shooting you in the groin with bean bags? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878764)

My lawyer just informed me that nut shots on cops is still illegal for some odd reason.

Re:Shooting you in the groin with bean bags? (1)

Dripdry (1062282) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878674)

I can't WAIT for the Cops episodes where they add in the "doing!" sound effects when that happens.
Comedy. Gold.

All things being equal (1)

jago25_98 (566531) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878172)

BigBrothers budget is set to fall.

Fair is fair; you can build one yourself:
http://diydrones.com/ [diydrones.com]

Re:All things being equal (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878436)

This will be sold as a cost-cutting measure, since a few guys operating a UAV can see a wider area than 10 guys on the ground. Or the cost could be compared to a police helicopter [officer.com] .

From TV into the hands of 'well-built' policemen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37878192)

We get a "watchbird", flown by those two well-built policemen on the press conference... Yay!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masters_of_Science_Fiction [wikipedia.org]

What the hell is wrong with this country? (4, Interesting)

intellitech (1912116) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878196)

The MK-III also has more lethal options available, capable of carrying either a 40mm or 37mm grenade launcher or 12 gauge shotgun with laser designator."

What the hell does law enforcement need a 37mm/40mm grenade launcher attached to a remote-controlled UAV for? Whatever, moving on.

Between the political disarray of congress, the chain of administrations that spend exorbitant amounts of money on things the people don't really need, the majority of police officers who are little more than petty thugs/tools, TSA groping children in airports and performing unwarranted, "random" searches on the street, media hype/sensationalism which constantly keeps the dumb majority of the public distracted, the incredibly skewed distribution of wealth, and an overall government with a cracked model of democracy that has it's hands in way too many cookie jars, I can't say I want to live in this country any longer. It's turning into a police state, and people should not have to fear the peace keepers, law makers, or individuals which hold powerful, public offices.

All in all, everything happening now is a perfect recipe for chaos, and I doubt anybody will realize it until it's too late.

P.S. I like the police. They keep the peace, and living in a large city, I am grateful for that. But the majority of police officers do not deserve the title - they are frequently loose cannons, act only on instinct or emotion, pick/choose what laws they enforce when they want to enforce them, and frequently ignore laws / people's rights just to further their own agenda, career, or case. I'm friends with a few cops (detectives, actually), and some of them are good guys who I can personally say have never violated anybody's rights, but, unfortunately, they are few and far between. I'd be fairly surprised if the "good cops" make up more than 20% of the force at any given precinct across the country.

P.S.S. "Chaos. Good news."

Re:What the hell is wrong with this country? (1)

pryoplasm (809342) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878242)

The grenade launcher can be used for nonlethal grenades as well, such as smoke, tear gas, or what not.

40mm is a standard military grenade size, and civillians (with many restrictions depending on where you are) can use 37mm "flare guns" that are damned close to a 40mm grenade launcher.....

Personally, I'm a little concened of invasion of privacy, unlawful search and seisure myself....

IANAL, but I do wonder if owning property entitles me to a certain limit of airspace over my land....just thinking

Re:What the hell is wrong with this country? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37878396)

The law used to be that if you owned land you owned that area from straight down to straight up, like a 3D cube. A while ago they changed it to a certain height above the building.

I tried looking for the legislation about this but can't seem to find it.

Re:What the hell is wrong with this country? (2)

GigG (887839) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878542)

No you didn't. Pure UL. But the laws setting up the FAA and it's predecessor (sorry can't remember what it was called, it's Saturday and early) clearly gives control of the vast majority of the airspace in the US to the federal government.

Re:What the hell is wrong with this country? (2)

AlphaLop (930759) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878738)

According to Fl law, you own the air rights above your property expanding out to space (I assume air rights would cease when there is no air, lol, but that is not the way the law is currently written.) and land rights under your property to the center of the earth. But eminent domain claims would be filed for usage of your air rights by the civil authorities. The government is great at taking away personal assets if it becomes an inconvenience to them. (Don't even get me started on this B.S. abuse of civil authority) As a retired law enforcement officer in a lot of ways this kind of scares me. We like to think that the best and brightest are the only people that maintain a career in law enforcement but in my experience this is not true. You have 4 basic types in law enforcement jobs. 1. The Good Cop. He is a guy/gal that actually is a genuinely decent person with a civic minded personality. (the rarest of the types) 2. The Hall Monitor. This really needs no explanation, we all know the type. 3. The bully. Again, no real need to explain. 4. The "I got picked on too much in High School and I am getting back at em by becoming a cop" cop. Actually, this is probably just another subset of the "bully" I don't want the last 3 flying drones over my home, armed or unarmed. Peering into windows and the supposed privacy of our homes and I ain't too keen on even the first type being able to. Humans tend to be voyeuristic by nature and this could be too easily abused. And law enforcement is a bureaucracy. With the same tendencies for people to rise to the level of their incompetence. It's said but ability to kiss butt and smooth talk gets you to the top of the heap and not actual ability to perform the duties required of the positions. (See our entire political process for reference). Besides, Law enforcement isn't about just stopping crime "Death from above" style. It is (supposed to be) about providing good roll models, showing a physical presence on the the streets letting the thugs and criminals that would victimize citizens know that they are there to deter them and in general help the community be a better place. Kind of hard to assist a stranded motorist or a guy being pressured into giving up his wallet without the ability to read body language and facial expressions. These are not easy things to do via a drone while sitting in an air conditioned office. The last thing any good officer should be is detached from his community. It makes it easier for them to fall into negative behaviors and abuse of authority rather than harder. At least now the bad cops still have to look the citizens in the eye, which may deter some borderline types from going bad in the first place. Oh, and it's one more tool for Skynet to use against us when the machine rebellion takes place. ;)

Re:What the hell is wrong with this country? (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878628)

IANAL, but I do wonder if owning property entitles me to a certain limit of airspace over my land....just thinking

Up to 500 ft.. after that is public air space.

Re:What the hell is wrong with this country? (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878656)

FLIR is easily defeated, the $0.99 survival blankets completely block IR cameras and FLIR cameras from being effective, The cops are just lucky that criminals are too stupid to know this and use this tactic.

Think of it as a whole body tinfoil hat invented by nasa.

Re:What the hell is wrong with this country? (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878246)

the chain of administrations that spend exorbitant amounts of money on things the people don't really need

Examples? Besides the obvious military ones?

Re:What the hell is wrong with this country? (1)

YouDieAtTheEnd (2471718) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878360)

Here ya go: Pig Book [cagw.org]

Re:What the hell is wrong with this country? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37878394)

It should be P.P.S., for "Post Post Script" (after after-text), not P.S.S. (after text text).

Re:What the hell is wrong with this country? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37878478)

I dunno, I kinda like P.P.S.S., for "post post-script script." :)

Re:What the hell is wrong with this country? (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878402)

All in all, everything happening now is a perfect recipe for chaos, and I doubt anybody will realize it until it's too late.

At least you did. Sadly, however, this only qualifies (P.P.S. [proz.com] and sig considered) for psychological treatment these days.

CC.

Re:What the hell is wrong with this country? (1)

3vi1 (544505) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878410)

>> What the hell does law enforcement need a 37mm/40mm grenade launcher attached to a remote-controlled UAV for? Whatever, moving on.

Enforcing software patents.

Re:What the hell is wrong with this country? (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878732)

Yup BSA raids. nothing like firing a couple of CS grenades in the face of the IT department guys when you respond to a call that they are re-using Office 2003 licenses on new computers.

Scumbag IT guys.

Re:What the hell is wrong with this country? (2)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878800)

And catching pirates, you can't forget about the pirates.

Re:What the hell is wrong with this country? (2)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878500)

The majority of police officers are not thugs. What a fucked up thing to say. The majority of police are good and decent people. Now admittedly there are thugs in the Police forces just as they exist everywhere and sometimes even the decent cops snap and make mistakes but to make a statement like that is inexcusable.

Re:What the hell is wrong with this country? (2)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878646)

Until i actually see one cop arrest another cop on-scene for blatant abuse of power, the perception will continue. While there are good cops, they dont do jack shit about their evil brethren. Look up the Kelly Thomas case, 4 officers stood around while 2 other officers BEAT HIM TO DEATH.

Re:What the hell is wrong with this country? (2)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878736)

Explain Oakland Police then.

Re:What the hell is wrong with this country? (1)

Dripdry (1062282) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878816)

In the moment I think it's easy to stereotype cops, they do have a tough job, but I'm not sure it's thuggery that is the problem.

The problem might be the over-reaching nature of their powers, and that instead of calmy explaining to the populace that they don't need a S.W.A.T. vehicle for a town of 10,000 people, they keep getting bigger and bigger arsenals, and scaring the shit out of more and more people, making those people potentially more hostile/scared/human when they encounter cops. It's a sort of terrible feedback loop, one could argue, but I'm open to another point of view.

Re:What the hell is wrong with this country? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37878520)

37 mm launches launch less then lethal only.

Police forces in the US that use 40mm launchers actually use special 40mm launchers that can only fire less then lethal rounds because their chambers are made too short to accept actual explosive grenades. So these launchers are used for riot control for tear gas, bean bags etc. Just as the 37mm.

Your all way too excited about this to think clearly.

Re:What the hell is wrong with this country? (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878706)

37mm grenade launchers are LEGAL for civillians to own. I have one under my AR-15. I have a pair of flare rounds and a couple of smoke rounds that came with it.

Why did I get it? Because it makes the rifle look REALLY COOL, and everyone at the firing range oohs and ahhs all over the gun. It's like putting a wing on a car, but far less dorky.

Re:What the hell is wrong with this country? (1)

prefec2 (875483) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878630)

When I was young everyone wanted to go to the USA. Most of them even considered staying there. But today, this is different. They find it absolutely crazy to go there and that is about the young.

Anarchy parks! (1)

50000BTU_barbecue (588132) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878206)

Copseyes! Obscure reference?

Re:Anarchy parks! (1)

YouDieAtTheEnd (2471718) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878398)

Haha, I always thought Niven's free parks were a great idea, if only you could be sure the copseyes would be piloted by fair and just people... or AI for that matter.

So what is Slashdot, now? (0)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878210)

The previous story was an NPR piece on US economics, now this? This isn't News for Nerds, this is some regular news site. I don't come here for this.

Re:So what is Slashdot, now? (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878456)

It's not been a tech-only site for a while. Page hits are all that matter.

Re:So what is Slashdot, now? (3, Informative)

prefec2 (875483) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878540)

A weaponizable unmanned flying object is definitely a geek thing. To discuss such stuff is also a geek thing. And it has always been a geek thing to play with models of other people. Regardless the type of model, e.g., helicopter or business plan or world theory or the downfall of a society. And by the way slashdot is not only for News for Nerds, it is also for Stuff that Matter.

And no it is not a regular news site. It is a news aggregator and discussion forum.

Productivity enhancer (1)

overshoot (39700) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878222)

This is going to be great for Texas. Their law enforcement productivity has been down lately because the court system has been a bottleneck in processing the whole tips->executions pipeline, but this tool has the potential to bypass almost all of that. They should be able to go from anonymous tip to taking out a crack house with a grenade in mere minutes.

Re:Productivity enhancer (2)

3vi1 (544505) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878480)

I know you're joking, but as a Texan I must point out that we'd never bypass the justice system unless the video from the drone showed with a high degree of probability that the suspect appeared to be mentally retarded.

Details matter (1)

overshoot (39700) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878786)

I must point out that we'd never bypass the justice system unless the video from the drone showed with a high degree of probability that the suspect appeared to be mentally retarded.

How much melanin does it take to make someone retarded?

Military Industrial Complex (4, Insightful)

rotide (1015173) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878228)

Really is amazing to watch just how far and wide the military/state is invading citizens lives.

I know there is a happy medium between no security and full blown police state, but I'm sure we passed that line and we're accelerating towards the latter. I also know that _every_ great nation has fallen. Maybe they don't totally die, get conquered, etc, but they certainly become shadows of their former selves. Are we on the slide down now? Are we past our prime? Can we recover? I understand that anything is possible, but does it look likely or even plausible given our political climate in the US? What would it take to make things "right" again (yes, I know there are multiple views of what this means)?

Am I just rambling and making no sense after just waking up on a Saturday?

Re:Military Industrial Complex (3, Interesting)

ZankerH (1401751) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878354)

Are we past our prime?

Definitely. Depends on who you ask, but most historians agree the USA was at its prime either during the interbellum, or the WWII - late 1950's period.

Re:Military Industrial Complex (-1, Troll)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878508)

They aren't invading MY life. At all.

The US is extremely disorderly and has vast numbers of violent criminals compared to most modern nations. The police didn't create them. There is not a way to make such folks be different, and as our borders collapse our society becomes less and less unified. That means people feel no obligation to each other.

If we want any degree of personal safety from each other we unfortunately need a police state to keep the lower class trash in line.

Re:Military Industrial Complex (2)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878666)

Wow man, you are just going full-retard today. The lower class is your FELLOW CITIZENS moron. Be careful who you dehumanize, for it may be you who is next.

Re:Military Industrial Complex (1)

trancemission (823050) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878658)

Are we on the slide down now? Are we past our prime? Can we recover?

The answer is yes - What has America got that the world needs? Your only export seems to be 'Entertainment' and Arms/Wars - which seem to be one and the same....

Lightly killed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37878234)

Mostly, for law enforcement, we focus on what we call less lethal systems,' he said

As a military pilot, I loled.

Awesome (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878238)

The drive to College Station was alway wrought with speed traps and cops dumber than Barny Fife. Now we have RoboCop. Living in Texas is aaaawesome.

you misspelled "peaceful-demonstrators" (1)

Lexible (1038928) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878244)

as "c h a s i n g - p e r p s".

What the? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37878262)

How the HELL do you NOT Godwin this kind of crap?

Wrong story (5, Informative)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878264)

The story isn't the drone. The story should be that the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office in Conroe, TX just paid $300,000 for a R/C helicopter from a company that just happens to be in Conroe, TX, [vanguarddefense.com] with a business website has only been in operating for a year. [godaddy.com]

Police giving $300,000 to new local company for a toy? Why do I feel like this was a scam, that someone in the police force just made $250,000+?

Re:Wrong story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37878300)

Not to mention what the fuck does a sheriff in Conroe, Texas need a goddamn drone for? This isn't downtown Houston, this is bumfuck Texas (with suburbs).

Re:Wrong story (2)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878536)

To justify spending $300,000, which puts $290,000+ in his pocket

Wish I was joking about the price. This ebay powerseller sells large (man-sized) R/C helicopters for $1,500-$2,000 with motor, batteries, radio, etc
http://www.ebay.com/itm/200660268060 [ebay.com]
http://www.ebay.com/itm/200657942941 [ebay.com]

I understand that the helicopter from Vanguard has a remote camera and screen which I'm sure increases the price but $298,000 for a remote camera seems high.

Re:Wrong story (1)

ironjaw33 (1645357) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878638)

To justify spending $300,000, which puts $290,000+ in his pocket Wish I was joking about the price. This ebay powerseller sells large (man-sized) R/C helicopters for $1,500-$2,000 with motor, batteries, radio, etc http://www.ebay.com/itm/200660268060 [ebay.com] http://www.ebay.com/itm/200657942941 [ebay.com] I understand that the helicopter from Vanguard has a remote camera and screen which I'm sure increases the price but $298,000 for a remote camera seems high.

Service or support? Someone has to train the deputies how to fly it as well as fix it when it breaks. Not to say that that justifies the cost either.

Re:Wrong story (2)

GigG (887839) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878590)

Not to mention what the fuck does a sheriff in Conroe, Texas need a goddamn drone for? This isn't downtown Houston, this is bumfuck Texas (with suburbs).

Large are to patrol. Small number of deputies. Counties are BIG in Texas.

Re:Wrong story (1)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878634)

And please understand I'm not bashing the idea of R/C helicopter drones for police use, I believe anything to get rid of police helicopters is a great idea because helicopters are horribly expensive. An inexpensive police helicopter costs 700k+ (pdf) [robinsonheli.com] and can easily reach millions and costs about $2,500 an hour to operate. [foxnews.com] So you can see how a drone could pay for itself in no time.

Security (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878274)

I wonder how secure they are, it would be pretty bad if some of them got hacked by malicious people.

Re:Security (1)

prefec2 (875483) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878570)

All the stuff the government uses is totally save. Look at the German Trojan Horse. errr. never mind.

shoot it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37878286)

Great idea! First you fly around a clay pigeon with a sheriff's logo on it to train the bad guys, and when it gets shot down and you don't have the funds for a new one, you put regular officers back in.

I wouldn't want one of these things on my squad.

what a hysterical story (4, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878288)

"Weaponizable" just means that you can add a weapon, not that the vehicle has one. Police departments already have plenty of "weaponizable" things, you can add rocket launchers to patrol cars or give a nuclear bomb to a patrol officer. (Yes, that's right, a patrol officer can destroy an entire city! You heard it here first!)

FWIW, the police department has described uses that don't use weapons (various recon/patrol functions), while the CEO of the business pumped the weaponization capabilities. Could a future police department have a fleet of armed UAVs? Absolutely. But that hasn't happened yet.

Re:what a hysterical story (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37878358)

Doesn't really matter. There is no justification for giving military weapons and recon platforms, and that's what this is, to civilian law enforcement. None. I don't care about the War on $Issue (TM), the alleged rise in violent crime (a lie) and pretty much any other excuse they care to come up with. The militarization of the police has got to stop because the police manage to prove they cannot be trusted pretty much every day. Yes, I know there are good cops, but the problem is that policing as a profession has a horrible track record concerning getting rid of those who don't belong in it. One of the types of people the profession seems to attract is the sort who simply enjoys intimidating and abusing other people. Those of you who are cops who are not like that, how about doing something about the ones who are? That might actually restore some credibility, because the truth of the matter is you all look the same in body armor behind masks holding weapons on people armed with tents and bottled water trying to make a political point.

Re:what a hysterical story (1)

GigG (887839) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878614)

RC aircraft timeline.
Civilians -> Military -> Police

Re:what a hysterical story (1)

prefec2 (875483) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878592)

It is bad enough that it is an UAV for surveillance purposes. I do not want to have flying UAVs or MAVs flying over my town. And I want a demilitarized zone inside my city.

Re:what a hysterical story (0)

GigG (887839) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878600)

"Weaponizable" just means that you can add a weapon, not that the vehicle has one. Police departments already have plenty of "weaponizable" things, you can add rocket launchers to patrol cars or give a nuclear bomb to a patrol officer. (Yes, that's right, a patrol officer can destroy an entire city! You heard it here first!) FWIW, the police department has described uses that don't use weapons (various recon/patrol functions), while the CEO of the business pumped the weaponization capabilities. Could a future police department have a fleet of armed UAVs? Absolutely. But that hasn't happened yet.

+1 Cluefulness

How is this any different? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37878336)

How is this any different for privacy concerns than flying around a manned helicopter ... that many, many police departments do currently?

Re:How is this any different? (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878694)

COST. We dont mind cops out watching us, but we dont want to give them the unlimited ability to do it either. Historically we limit them by budget. If we start implementing cheap surveillance, we lose that cost control.

DAMN YOU GEORGE BUSH!!!! (0)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878356)

Only 2 1/2 months till Obama is inaugurated..........I can't wait!

Sounds like Texas to me... (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878362)

A remote controlled aircraft armed with a shotgun fired by someone sitting comfortably in a chair. I think we heard of a similar program there some years ago that intended to "bring hunting to the disabled". Now they just changed the prey...

Urban unrest (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37878384)

This is not designed for regular policing, and would have little if any use in day to day operations. Helicopters are used for large sporting events to coordinate resources on the ground with the aerial view giving a big picture. But TFA does not even try to use this justification. The words used are 'hunting criminals', and ` SWAT team officers are facing an active shooter`

I've never been to the states so I do not know how frequent these events are, but imagine not frequent enough to justify this type of acquisition.

So where could a tool like this become useful?

The first major deployment of aircraft for population control was the Indian subcontinent. Around 1915-1922ish, aircraft were deployed and used to quell urban unrest. With relatively few servicemen able to command vast areas. The subcontinent included India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

More recently, the UAV has been used to spy-on and assassinate potential adversaries in the middle east, covering vast areas and again utilizing minimal personnel. Assassination seems to be preferred over capture and rendition as captives eventually talk.

Is the US expecting large-scale social unrest?

If the answer is yes, it seems the government have chosen their defense strategy. If not, well, once police forces acquire a tool they tend to use them, and don't like to give them back. Both scenarios are worrying.

As an outsider looking in, I see the US as going through a metamorphosis similar to that of Germany in the 1920s. The TSA could be compared to the early days of the Sturmabteilung (SA, or stormtroopers.) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sturmabteilung

I hope I am wrong.

Stun baton? (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878400)

"engage somebody at altitude" with a hand to hand weapon? Does this UAV transform into a humanoid? Or maybe they plan on stunning skydivers (who then can't pull their ripcords).

Re:Stun baton? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37878562)

[...] or a gun that fires bean bags known as a 'stun baton.'

Right there in the summary, genius.

Re:Stun baton? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37878670)

yup. they are called stun baton rounds.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baton_round
they look like this :
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Rubber_bullet.jpg

Blue Thunder not so unreal after all... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37878406)

Oh man I'm getting Blue Thunder vibes.
That film was prophetic (except nowadays we get uavs instead).

Nice. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37878412)

The Police have shown such restraint lately where the rights of the people are concerned, I don't see any reason not to give them Military weapons to engage civilians with...

Welcome our next totalitarian episode in history (2)

prefec2 (875483) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878446)

The best thing to keep the crowd down is divide and conquer and of course good surveillance and a quick response force. But surveillance is of greatest importance. It is required for the divide and conquer strategy and it is important for the quick response force. So to achieve the required basics for a totalitarian system you need such stuff.

On the other hand. Democracy works best with out suppression and a homogeneous economic situation for the people, meaning the poor and the rich are not that far apart.

However, in modern western societies, we decided that it is not a problem that the poorer get poorer and that there are more poor people every day, so democracy is no longer working. In a democracy the rich could not get away with so much money. This has nothing to do with jealousy. I do not need my own yacht or villa. Actually I am quite comfortable. The problem is that there are so many people who are not "quite comfortable". They suffer. And they are angry. Right now they are not organized and they are not able to fight for themselves. As this might chance, the state (as in the control structure) has to ensure the safety of those who are "quite comfortable" or above.

In a state (as in the organization of the people for common interests) would obviously address the issue and get the money from the rich for all those necessities of life. Healthcare, pensions, streets, schools, universities, unemployment insurance/guaranteed minimal income, and safety (as in safety for all) etc. BTW a good guaranteed minimal reduces violence and increases safety.

Laser designator.. for a shotgun? (1)

Kaenneth (82978) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878452)

I'm not a gun expert by far, but... is high accuracy really applicable to a shotgun?

Re:Laser designator.. for a shotgun? (1)

GigG (887839) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878574)

I'm not a gun expert by far, but... is high accuracy really applicable to a shotgun?

It is if you want to hit anything.

JUSTICE FROM ABOVE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37878496)

Please note the tacit assumption that any targets this thing takes on are already criminal, which used to mean "person convicted of a crime". Here, not even allegedly so. And by that assumption any targets easily become acceptable targets.

I for one welcome our new airborne judge overlords.

Suggestion for those in Montgomery County: (1)

mrquagmire (2326560) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878526)

Target practice.

Hacking (1)

timmans (1288762) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878560)

I bet the hackers are going to love to play around with this. Just imagine if the C&C frequency can be hacked...

Whats next? (1)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878576)

I hope this thing, and any like them, gets shot out of the sky and destroyed by citizens who still care about the constitution.

And the escalation continues. (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878624)

It will be only a short time before drug lords and other baddies start getting anti aircraft missiles to take out the UAV's.

Do we really want the police encouraging the criminals to upgrade weaponry?

Less Lethal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37878704)

Is "less lethal" like "partially dead"?

A laser sighted shotgun? Think about that for a minute.

Fuck It! (1)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878708)

If they want to go that route, I'll find a way to shoot the bitch down and laugh. Montgomery County UAV vs. RPG!

Another drone... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37878710)

About 3 years ago, a local Houston TV news reporter got wind of an unannounced, by invitation only, test by the Houston PD of a drone they intended to purchase for 'traffic enforcement' purposes. Given their penchant for long (usually at rush hour), cinematically lush chases, several with fatalities, the suggestion of a less obvious method of surveiling the latest mobile boyfriend run amok might have had merit. But the public were convinced by the sinister angle of the reportage that it was a bad idea then. Conroe may be a suburb of Houston someday, (it's 60 miles north) but it is another country mentally. Different set of good ol' boys, and now they can, for as long as it takes for Houston PD to demand and procure theirs, gloat about their toys being badder. I've been in their traffic camera monitor room, and wonder if they'll be using the same guys (think 5-day LAN party attendee) to keep track of the drone. But, also, think of a place where you are absolutely allowed to carry while mowing your lawn. This thing may end up being a six-figure clay pigeon.

Goodbye America (1)

koan (80826) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878746)

The police are just another gang, albeit better equipped, frankly that thing looks like a joke to me especially considering it will be a Texas cop flying it.
Dry Weight: 35lbs (16 kg)
Overall Length: 96 in (243.9 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: 70 mph (112.6 kph)
Max Range: 35 miles (56 km)
Fuel Endurance: Turbine 45 min/Piston 3.5 hrs.

What a joke.

This is insane (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37878810)

I think the application of UAVs during wartime was questionable, and I find it to be absolutely incredible that we are using them on our own people now. We've killed a lot of people who were innocent by accident, and I think the detachment between a UAV operator and the actual person they see in their monitor enables these kinds of casualties. It's different when a soldier (or cop) is face to face with a criminal and can assess the situation in person.

The application of UAVs with infrared cameras to find grow houses for drugs is the kind of use that is perfectly acceptable. Remotely tazing, bean-bagging, and shooting people is not.

We really need to pass a law that permanently bans any kind of semi-lethal or lethal force being applied by UAVs against civilians. Especially with the controversy about the actual damage inflicted by a tazer.

Armed Police Drones... (1)

arthurpaliden (939626) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878818)

Not to worry when the come to get me I will just hide in my bunker with all my guns ..... oh wait ....
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