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Texas Sheriffs Crash $250k Drone They're Not Supposed To Be Flying

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the reportedly-called-the-experience-"wicked-sweet" dept.

Government 93

SpaceGhost writes: "The Houston Chronicle reveals that Friday morning a $250,000 drone was lost by the Sheriff's department in Lake Conroe (just north of Houston.) Divers have been searching for the drone. What's more, the drone is reportedly over the FAA's 25-pound weight limit, so they shouldn't have been flying it in the first place (the Chronicle says 49 pounds, the Montgomery County Police Reporter says 29 pounds — either way, it's too heavy). The MCPR article goes on to discuss the recently passed Texas Legislature House Bill 912 which restricts the use of drones to observe private property, likely influenced by the January 2012 discovery of illegal pig blood runoff and subsequent indictment."

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Cops do whatever they want (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46873289)

and justify it with liberal interpretation of probable cause later.

Then a fearful and ignorant populace allow them to keep doing it.

Re:Cops do whatever they want (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46873631)

This is one of the saddest truths about our society police should be held to a higher standard with stricter punishments than those applied to regular civilians. But instead they are rarely criminally charged for criminal actives and even more rarely convicted and sentenced on par with regular civilian criminals

Re:Cops do whatever they want (2)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46876695)

"But instead they are rarely criminally charged for criminal actives and even more rarely convicted and sentenced on par with regular civilian criminals"

They protect the rich and powerful, what were you expecting? The police and military have always been the gangsters for capitalism. Who was it that attacked the civil rights movement again?

Re:Cops do whatever they want (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46880119)

Thats because we are a capitalist country dumbass. In socialist countries the police and military are gangsters for socialism. What is your point?

Re:Cops do whatever they want (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46873729)

Idiots.

Re:Cops do whatever they want (1)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | about 4 months ago | (#46873783)

They were using the drone to film police activities on the ground. What does that have to do with probable cause?

Re:Cops do whatever they want (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46873939)

They had probable cause that some guys on the ground were using an overweight drone unlawfully.

Re:Cops do whatever they want (2)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | about 4 months ago | (#46876083)

That is what you get when you fed drones on a diet of doughnuts!

Re:Cops do whatever they want (1)

nobuddy (952985) | about 4 months ago | (#46875567)

How did they lose it in a lake if it was observing police activity on the ground?

Re:Cops do whatever they want (1)

Kkloe (2751395) | about 4 months ago | (#46875803)

What do you think ground means or refers to?

Re:Cops do whatever they want (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 4 months ago | (#46876081)

Duh. You can't see ground when you're over water. Also dogs can't look up.

Re:Cops do whatever they want (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46874043)

it's not 'probable cause' that's the issue...
the biggest issue is 'rational basis'.

Where courts (including the Supreme Court), decides on an outcome FIRST.
Then works it's way back to the law, to find a 'rational basis' for it's decision.

So in the context of the police. If they arrest you (unlawfully), and you (lawfully) resist the arrest, you've now 'resisted arrest' and thus are subject to arrest.

Re:Cops do whatever they want (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46875055)

"That's some catch, that Catch-22," Yossarian observed.

"It's the best there is," Doc Daneeka replied.

Re:Cops do whatever they want (1)

rotorbudd (1242864) | about 4 months ago | (#46876605)

Ha!
That movie is on right now

Thanks,
Major Major M. Major

Re:Cops do whatever they want (1)

maharvey (785540) | about 4 months ago | (#46874235)

And just what is it you think the populace can do about it? They have the guns.

Re:Cops do whatever they want (1)

Fnord666 (889225) | about 4 months ago | (#46875313)

And just what is it you think the populace can do about it? They have the guns.

LEO or the populace? This is Texas, remember? Carrying a firearm is not only a right but also a requirement there.

Don't know much about Texas do you? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46877367)

So shut your ignorant pie hole.

Re:Cops do whatever they want (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46877453)

That is not true. Texas has stricter Concealed Handgun requirements than most other states. It may come as a shock, but we don't all ride horses either.

Re:Cops do whatever they want (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 4 months ago | (#46874551)

Don't worry. Now that technology is allowing these abuses to target "us" and not "them" people will start getting angry.

Texas Rangers (2)

jonyen (2633919) | about 4 months ago | (#46873313)

The eyes of the ranger are upon you, and they're quite heavy.

Re:Texas Rangers (5, Funny)

arth1 (260657) | about 4 months ago | (#46873379)

The eyes of the ranger are upon you, and they're quite heavy.

The eyes, or the rangers?

Re:Texas Rangers (1)

jonyen (2633919) | about 4 months ago | (#46873413)

The eyes, given that the drones exceed the FAA's limit, in case you didn't read the article.

Re:Texas Rangers (1)

Sooner Boomer (96864) | about 4 months ago | (#46873697)

The eyes of the ranger are upon you, and they're quite heavy.

The eyes, or the rangers?

First one, then the other...

Who will watch these selfsame watchers? (5, Insightful)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 4 months ago | (#46873319)

True in Roman times.

True in Victorian times.

True today.

Note to America: That which removes your freedoms out of fear makes you Weaker, not Stronger.

Re:Who will watch these selfsame watchers? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46873459)

Note to pretentious assholes on Slashdot: Kill yourselves. You are worthless.

Re:Who will watch these selfsame watchers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46873513)

Sounds like you'll be first in line, not that that's worth anything.

Re:Who will watch these selfsame watchers? (2)

rossdee (243626) | about 4 months ago | (#46873527)

No, the first in line is the Sirius Cybernetic Corp

Re:Who will watch these selfsame watchers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46873865)

Welcome your new drone overlords! Share and enjoy! Share and enjoy!

Re:Who will watch these selfsame watchers? (5, Funny)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 4 months ago | (#46873545)

Who will watch the watchers? That's easy -- private drones under the 25lb weight limit.

Re:Who will watch these selfsame watchers? (3, Funny)

mjwx (966435) | about 4 months ago | (#46876275)

Who will watch the watchers?

WeightWatchers perhaps?

Re:Who will watch these selfsame watchers? (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 4 months ago | (#46882643)

Who will watch the watchers? That's easy -- private drones under the 25lb weight limit.

You may be joking, but that's the answer. The problem of "who will watch the watchers" has long been solved: Everyone. Those concerned about the watchers behavior should be allowed to watch the behaviors of the watchers with their own independent watching group. This is the basic fundamental principal of accountability, and it can only be corrupted if secrecy is allowed. Personally, instead of drones, I would use a simple image recognition system hooked up to a couple of telescopes and a mesh of at least three software defined radio scanners overlapping amongst neighbors (for triangulation and initial aiming of the amateur telescopes / webcams + lenses). Simple image recognition lets me automate shooting star and back-yard bird watching, minus the radio triangulation. Such a setup is relatively cheap, so if drones become common I suspect amateur astronomy / neighborhood watch / police scanner folks will use Google Maps or Open Streetmap and enable you to pull up a map of drone paths in your area over time and even watch them zooming around on your Internet connected device (another reason why remote kill switches should never be accepted). I'm not the only one with the know how to produce drone surveillance mesh network nodes, but if no one else does, and the drones become common, then I'll simply make production of automated drone watching gizmos the target of my robotics hobby.

It is not the watching that is the primary problem, but the secrecy -- Disallowing the watching of certain activities. Governments should be afforded no secrecy in the governance of their own population. A government oversight committee for the secret watchers only moves the problem of secrecy around. It's not like we need secrecy in government. We brashly do whatever we want and announce it to the world as we do so. Who needs any secrecy if you frequently thumb your nose at the world and do as you please despite reprimands and condemnations? Any who are at comparable technological capability are already watching each other quite effectively, it is only the less powerful citizenry who are excluded from making informed decisions via government secrecy. The idea that secrecy is needed is refuted by the existence of spies and/or double agents. Even a lowly IT contractor like Snowden proves that our systems are certainly leaking all of the data about our citizens to our enemies. Might as well open the info up to the public -- Ah, but then we'd use it to stay up to date on the activities of our government officials.

If your public policy is the same as your actions then you need no secrecy. If back-room arms deals with native warlords are required to save lives then the citizenry will understand, but only if the information to understand the nuances of the situation are allowed. Because power corrupts, citizens should be able to prove their government is not acting against them. They can not do this if secrecy prevents them from watching the watchers. One of the things a watcher of watchers will note is the Cost vs Benefit analysis. If we spend a bunch of money to have more drones flying about, or more TSA agents (who fail to prevent any terrorism, or even keep stowaways out of landing gear), etc. and that expense is not beneficial (lack of crime, no significant benefit vs cheaper neighborhood watch, passengers themselves being the detector and deterrent to terrorism now, etc), then the budget for the watchers can be cut to appropriate levels.

What we need is not absolute security, but spending proportionate to the actual threat. Heart disease and accidents kill more people than 400 9/11's every year, yet we are not banning cars and French fries; You're 4 times more likely to be struck by lightning than by terrorists, so anti-terrorism budget should be 1/4th of what our government spends on subsidizing lighting rods and rubberized suits. The public shouldn't be paying for services they do not need or want, and therefore the "government" label should be excluded from services the public are not paying for (a large majority of black-ops are investment funded, possibly in violation of insider trading, which would be great use for PRISM). If we're not paying for a service, or fully informed of the actions of the service, then it should not be considered a government service, since we have no peaceful way of shutting it down if we don't want or need the Pentagon's extreme tin-foil hattery and anti-activism programs. [theguardian.com]

Indeed, we should be able to call on our Army to uphold the constitution they are sworn to protect from enemies both foreign and domestic -- Considering these secret agencies as "government programs" prevents our troops from doing their duty, and shutting down the NSA servers by force for unconstitutional actions against the populace, until their actions are judged by the other branches of government.

The more power one has the less secrecy and more accountability the actions of wielding said power should be afforded. The branches of government were designed to watch each the other watchers. The requirement of meetings with scribes who record minutes, court room activities, and outcomes of congress votes, etc. were expressly designed to provide the citizens watching behavior. Personally, I believe the 2nd amendment should be changed such that "weapons" and "arms" be merely considered "technology". We need the right to bear technology enshrined in the constitution, that includes computing power, solar panels, encryption, radios, drones, etc.

Re:Who will watch these selfsame watchers? (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 4 months ago | (#46873645)

we solved that issue.

The people watch them.

Re:Who will watch these selfsame watchers? (1)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | about 4 months ago | (#46873795)

Yeah. The fact that we're discussing this means that we're watching them.

The FAA and the Texas Legislature are restricting the capabilities and the uses of drones.

Re:Who will watch these selfsame watchers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46874383)

It's turtles all the way down

and nothing of value (0)

hguorbray (967940) | about 4 months ago | (#46873377)

was lost

-I'm just sayin'

Re:and nothing of value (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | about 4 months ago | (#46875383)

So that's the junk that ended up in my backyard!?!

Find MH370... (1)

TchrBabe (3589445) | about 4 months ago | (#46873397)

And you will find this drone...

I see what you did there! (2)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 4 months ago | (#46873403)

While privacy is preferred, if there is to be a panopticon, it must be one everyone can look through, not just government i.e. people in power.

"With warrant" is not enough -- not when all it takes is one corrupt lackey to abuse it on the orders of a politician.

A drone is just one of many aspects to this new tool of dictatorship...especially when only government can use it.

Re:I see what you did there! (3, Insightful)

arth1 (260657) | about 4 months ago | (#46873493)

"With warrant" is not enough -- not when all it takes is one corrupt lackey to abuse it on the orders of a politician.

As far as I can tell, our police is perfectly capable of exceeding their authorities without orders from a politician.

Re:I see what you did there! (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 4 months ago | (#46873657)

If you are outside, you have no right to privacy from being viewed.

Re:I see what you did there! (1)

yoder (178161) | about 4 months ago | (#46873671)

"With warrant" is not enough -- not when all it takes is one corrupt lackey to abuse it on the orders of a politician.

Especially when that politician is taking their orders from their corporate master.

Well, it's Texas (5, Funny)

Krishnoid (984597) | about 4 months ago | (#46873409)

the Chronicle says 49 pounds, the Montgomery County Police Reporter says 29 pounds — either way, it's too heavy

Shouldn't they deserve a special exception from the FAA's weight limit? After all, everything's bigger in Texas [chron.com] .

Re:Well, it's Texas (1)

v1 (525388) | about 4 months ago | (#46873575)

29, 49, so close, does it even matter?

Famous Texas saying...... (3, Funny)

Bravoc (771258) | about 4 months ago | (#46873425)

"Hold my beer and watch this!"

Re:Famous Texas saying...... (3, Informative)

sribe (304414) | about 4 months ago | (#46873499)

It's not a famous "saying", it's famous "LAST WORDS" ;-)

Famous Bravoc saying...... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46873597)

"Let me take your hard cock up my ass!"

Privacy to pollute (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46873511)

Most of the noise about drones and "privacy" is astroturf campaigns funded by industrial polluters who don't want to get caught.

Re:Privacy to pollute (1)

rahvin112 (446269) | about 4 months ago | (#46874269)

I don't think Texas can legally ban drones anyway, it's the exclusive jurisdiction of the FAA. Just like states can't pass laws restricting the use of radio frequencies because again, it's the exclusive jurisdiction of the FCC.

There are things Texas CAN do... (1)

mmell (832646) | about 4 months ago | (#46875297)

...they can regulate how police organizations are permitted to use existing technology and equipment. Ridiculous example - a police department in Texas may be able to get their hands on an M-1 tank, doesn't mean they can use it. Of course, they'll actually get to use it once, but after that...

Re:There are things Texas CAN do... (1)

Sporkinum (655143) | about 4 months ago | (#46879739)

The small town of Washington, Iowa, pop 7000. Just got a surplus MRAP.
http://dailyiowan.com/2014/04/... [dailyiowan.com]

Re:Privacy to pollute (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46878445)

I don't think Texas can legally ban drones anyway, it's the exclusive jurisdiction of the FAA. Just like states can't pass laws restricting the use of radio frequencies because again, it's the exclusive jurisdiction of the FCC.

They didn't ban drones. They banned photography from drones and there are lots of exceptions.

Silly people (2, Insightful)

penguinoid (724646) | about 4 months ago | (#46873537)

Don't you know that laws don't apply to government officials?

Re:Silly people (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46873573)

Since it has nothing to do with gays or drugs, I'm sure the Republicans will all be screaming "states rights!" over any FAA investigation.

Re:Silly people (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46873771)

Signs you might be an idiot: you bring partisan politics into things which aren't partisan.

Congratulations! You're an idiot.

Re:Silly people (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 4 months ago | (#46873669)

Government official get arrested and prosecuted.

Re:Silly people (1)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | about 4 months ago | (#46873809)

Yeah, but those stories don't get mentioned on slashdot.

Re:Silly people (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 4 months ago | (#46874507)

Not as often as they should be.

Hopefully the Supreme Court will rule [washingtonpost.com] the First Amendment applies to government employees.

Re:Silly people (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46877841)

Don't you know that laws don't apply to government officials?

Only if you're in the White House!!!!

Evil bit (1, Redundant)

Tailhook (98486) | about 4 months ago | (#46873571)

Activists SHOULD set the evil bit to zero (0) while hunting violators of pollution regulations and other worthy causes. The cops MUST set the evil bit to one (1) while abusing power. At other times the cops MAY set the evil bit to zero (0), especially when gathering evidence on rich people, gun owners, for-profit corporations and non-compliant ranchers.

Re:Evil bit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46874193)

oh c'mon evil bit reference well used in context and on topic can't be -1
if i had mod points left!

Re:Evil bit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46877669)

It was lame when it was new. It hasn't aged well.

hunting for planes (0)

v1 (525388) | about 4 months ago | (#46873585)

they've been looking for an entire jetliner for weeks (and positively spamming every newsfeed in the world the entire time), how do they expect to find a lost drone?

Re:hunting for planes (1)

hax4bux (209237) | about 4 months ago | (#46873703)

Because the search radius not thousands of miles?

Anbody seen this particular ShadowHawk personally? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46873605)

This comment in the story appears to be from Congressman Brady:

With a jet engine it is not stealth like most think.

My problem with that is that the ShadowHawk is available in turbine and 2-stroke versions and the photo in the story (supposedly of MCSO's) shows a 2-stroke muffler on the tail boom. So not a turbine. I only started looking because of this other comment, also from Brady:

According to Brady, the device costs about $40 per hour to operate, versus $500 per hour for a manned helicopter.

Which is bullshit. As with $500/hr for the full-size manned helicopter, $40/hr might just cover fuel costs but doesn't do anything for regular maintenance of the helicopter. Even model helicopters cost a lot more than $40/hr to run.

(plus one informAtive) (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46873613)

these rules 3ill a sad world. At

Texas Sheriffs crash 250K$ drone (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 4 months ago | (#46873713)

Were they texting while flying?

Re:Texas Sheriffs crash 250K$ drone (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 4 months ago | (#46874471)

Considering this is Texas more likely they were shooting while flying.

ALL YOUR PIG BLOOD ARE BELONG TO US! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46873721)

Because it's Texas and the Harris county cops can damn well do whatever they please. Only, it's not pig blood they are looking for, it is you!

Why spent 1/4 M$ for an observation platform? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46873779)

0) Hey, spending 250K for 2.5k value is pretty good for us.
1) Hmm, I guess we should have had some nerds on the payroll.
2) Don' be silly, you didn't think the money actually went to...
3) The price is right because we intend to put X on it later
4) Being on the national news, priceless.
5) Note to self: try to stay off the news.
6) What was that question again?

Looking in a lake .... (5, Funny)

PPH (736903) | about 4 months ago | (#46873785)

..... for a 29 pound drone. No, it was 49 pounds.

Sounds like a fishing story to me.

FAA website is not a reliable source (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46873827)

A COA can be approval for anything. There is no inherent limitation on weight. The FAAs website is chalk full of PR half truths. Source: I've received a COA for a >25 lb aircraft.

Re:FAA website is not a reliable source (1)

Rich0 (548339) | about 4 months ago | (#46874123)

A COA can be approval for anything. There is no inherent limitation on weight. The FAAs website is chalk full of PR half truths. Source: I've received a COA for a >25 lb aircraft.

More importantly, there is no legal binding policy regulating drones at all, at least not as far as I can find.

The FAA has clearly stated that they don't want people flying drones for commercial use without a license. However, they never created a regulation to that effect, so it is really nothing more than a suggestion, and not legally enforceable.

There will be no consequences (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | about 4 months ago | (#46874151)

The FAA will not do anything to punish illegal drone flights by law enforce^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H domestic anti-terror officers.

At $10,000 per pound (0)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | about 4 months ago | (#46874343)

Maybe I should get out of my keylime investment.

Someone is getting scammed, and it is you, the taxpayers.

Re:At $10,000 per pound (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46877019)

Man, If I find it it is going to a pawn shop or on ebay. Or on that Chinese site.
If I see another $250K cruising around, gunna see if a potato gun or bird catch nets can down it for easy extra cash.
But it looks like another ignorant lowlife took it to the scrap metal merchant where it would be crushed.

Better than pretending an alien spacecraft escaped from the vehicular holding yard.

You dumb mother fuckers in time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46874819)

It will be trivial to subjugate you to any will they wish to impose. and all your guns will be useless to free your bond.
This is a fact

Sgt. Bubba, Yew Hold Ma Beer a Minute Now (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46874953)

Now, watch this here, I seen it in a movie once...

Weight limit (1)

Tim OBrien (3507173) | about 4 months ago | (#46875063)

It's easy to get a waiver for the weight limit. Lots of giant-scale r/c'ers with planes twice that.

School Boy Antics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46875501)

Just like a 6 grade boy with a pack of condoms and an issue of Hustler for the first time.

Ha ha

Private drones (1)

Fjandr (66656) | about 4 months ago | (#46876301)

Once the technology becomes ubiquitous, watch for private drones armed with small air-to-air rockets being used to take out police drones.

Re:Private drones (1)

cusco (717999) | about 4 months ago | (#46880253)

RC plane with a couple of ropes trailing behind should be enough, especially for the helicopter drones.

Looks more like an army. (3, Interesting)

Bender Unit 22 (216955) | about 4 months ago | (#46876563)

Looks more like an army than a police department.

In some ways, not in others (1)

tusam (1851540) | about 4 months ago | (#46878561)

Similar toys but military personnel usually get real consequences instead of paid vacation when they fsck up.

Well, Texas used to be an independent nation. (1)

jsrjsr (658966) | about 4 months ago | (#46931227)

I guess they haven't lost some habits.

Deputy Dog? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46876925)

Ah, the headline says "Sheriffs", but the story mentions ONE sheriff's department. Is the author perhaps confusing "sheriff" with "deputy sheriff"?

Just another fine example (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46876999)

Of texan hick cops who obvious have contempt for the very law they profess to enforce, as they dont follow the rules themselves, with their new toys.

Same department? (1)

Dereck1701 (1922824) | about 4 months ago | (#46877031)

Isn't this the same department that crashed a drone into their own armored vehicle full of SWAT personnel during a photo op? This seems a lot less like mechanical difficulties and more like inexperienced/inept officers who are blaming everything on their new, expensive, unnecessary toys.

http://gizmodo.com/5890507/pol... [gizmodo.com]

Here hold my beer, watch this. BOOM (1)

gelfling (6534) | about 4 months ago | (#46877093)

And so goes what everyone knew what would happen when you gave drones to cops.

Ewar (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46877741)

Hopefully somebody used a little EWAR to bring it down into a lake.

Boys will be boys (1)

peter303 (12292) | about 4 months ago | (#46878859)

Even when they wear blue. Probably having too much fun.

I live 4 blocks from Lake Conroe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46879601)

In all honesty, the sherriff's department here is inept, overweight, and looking for trouble. I do not exaggerate. I'm surprised they have anyone on staff who think they could even fly a drone. They likely thought since because they can play Xbox, they can fly a drone. Again, this place is abjectly redneck. You can almost hear the locals whisper in hushed questioning tones: "Internet...??? I've heard tell of such a thing..."

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