Not If But When

When do you think the first homicide from an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) will take place in the United States? They don’t need to be guided using a satellite, you know.

17 comments… add one

  • Within 6 months.

  • And it will be a government controlled drone too.

  • Whose government? If ours, it’s kind of hard for me to imagine any action more likely to foment insurrection.

  • Really? Our government kills lots of citizens every year. Some for no good reason at all.

  • For your consideration Dave.

    Normally, police would not stop individuals for simply walking on the street, but Stovall said the level of crime in certain areas and concerns from residents gave his officers the right to institute the actions announced at the town hall event.

    What actions are those? Why police officers in SWAT gear stopping anyone and everyone they see and want to question…for no reason other than that they are in public.

    Consider also that for most police departments force protection is the overwhelming concern. What better than sending in a drone to deal with a dangerous situation when feasible? Eventually somebody will be killed.

    Just a matter of time before a government controlled drone in the U.S. kills a U.S. citizen.

    BTW, I will also note you used the word “homicide”. When the police shot and kill some one it is a lawful homicide.

    So really, the hand wringing about insurrection? Again, why? Most Americans wont give a crap.

  • Maybe it’s just me but I see quite a distance between stopping people and questioning them and Judge Dredd.

  • TastyBits

    I see them being used to intrude into people’s privacy. The purchase will be done to fight the “War on Drugs”, but they will also be used to generate revenue. Every trivial law will be enforced.

    Dressing in military gear with military weapons will always be preferred to actual police work.

  • Andy

    Doubt very much it will be a government drone. The police drones aren’t armed, for one thing.

    My guess would be a small “suicide” drone with some explosives in it.

  • Andy

    Meet Charlene.

  • Oh, dear, Andy. Charlene has some skills, doesn’t she?

  • Maybe it’s just me but I see quite a distance between stopping people and questioning them and Judge Dredd.

    You haven’t been reading Radley Balko enough then. Breaking into people’s homes and shooting them (and/or their dogs) is far from unheard of. If one can use a drone in some cases to take out the “bad guy”, that is the ultimate in force protection.

    Doubt very much it will be a government drone. The police drones aren’t armed, for one thing.

    Yet.

    Was it silly to think that someday police would be driving around in armored personnel carriers? Have military weapons up to and including a .50 caliber machine gun. Seriously, when the fuck do the police need a belt fed .50 caliber machine gun mounted on an armored personnel carrier? That is a weapon that can punch through almost an inch hardened steel armor at 100 yards. It is a weapon of pure destruction. Yet a police department has one…on what is pretty much a tank sans the 120 mm L44 cannon.

    Really, don’t be this naive.

  • Andy

    Really, don’t be this naive.

    When the police get an armed drone, let me know. How many people has that .50 cal machine gun killed? The police currently have access to armed remote control robots. How many people have they killed?

    Look, I agree with you about the militarization of law enforcement. But it’s not “naive” to suggest that government will not be the first to use these to lethal effect domestically. There are a lot of practical problems with the technology – the bigger drones can fire air-to-ground missiles and drop bombs. The smaller drones (like Charlene) can carry guns, but as the video shows, they’re not exactly accurate. I can’t really think of any law enforcement situation where either one of those would be more useful to the police than non-drone methods.

  • There are a lot of practical problems with the technology – the bigger drones can fire air-to-ground missiles and drop bombs. The smaller drones (like Charlene) can carry guns, but as the video shows, they’re not exactly accurate. I can’t really think of any law enforcement situation where either one of those would be more useful to the police than non-drone methods.

    I can’t think of any law enforcement situation where a .50 caliber M2 is necessary…but at least one police department has them. Most have assault weapons…even in towns and localities where they have 1 murder ever 25 years. No, really. Radley Balko has documented plenty of instances where small police departments have SWAT units. And they use them…for stuff like serving drug warrants.

    And the problems with this technology suggest that government is going to be the first to use it to lethal effect as they’ll likely be the first to figure out how to solve those problems. For most criminals, a hand gun suffices. In some cases shotguns or sub-machine guns will work. To go out and develop the capability and know-how to use a drone? Please.

    I can’t really think of any law enforcement situation where either one of those would be more useful to the police than non-drone methods.

    I could say the same thing about using SWAT units for serving drug warrants on non-violent offenders at 3AM in the morning…yet they do.

    Stop assuming the cops are going to approach these issues with the same logic and thought process you are using. They aren’t interested in protecting the public, they are interested in protecting themselves. Keep in mind, always, the following dictum: Cops, they aren’t your friends. And the corollary is probably good to remember as well: Cops, never trust them.

  • TastyBits

    @Steve Verdon

    … small police departments have SWAT units. And they use them…for stuff like serving drug warrants.

    This increases the chance of a violent encounter, and this is used to justify the need for more military equipment. In my experience, drug dealers do not needlessly get into firefights with the police, but sometimes, the police department is also in the drug trade. Doing time is a cost of doing business.

    … Cops, they aren’t your friends. …

    It depends on who and where you are.

  • This increases the chance of a violent encounter, and this is used to justify the need for more military equipment.

    Exactly right. It is a vicious circle. The police go out and create a SWAT unit. They don’t use it much because there isn’t much crime in , so they look for other uses. Drug warrants. They argue that they need to go in with a no-knock (or nominal knock–i.e. knock on the door wait 5 seconds, then bust the door in) at 3AM to “preserve evidence” and for “force protection reasons”. They also make the absurd claim that it is for the safety of those being served as well. After at 3AM being roused from sleep by the sounds of somebody breaking into your house it is only logical to assume it is the police and you should wait passively for them to handcuff you. The truth is some poor unfortunate wakes up confused and disoriented, but hears somebody breaking down the door and shouting. He reaches for his gun…..

    And that kind of incident is how they justify the extreme use of force.

    It depends on who and where you are.

    Given that cops have arrested people for doing perfectly legal things on their own property, I don’t think you can make that argument. Hell, in the case of Katherine Johnston they killed her.

  • Andy

    Stop assuming the cops are going to approach these issues with the same logic and thought process you are using.

    My point wasn’t about logic or thought processes, but capabilities. Drones are excellent law enforcement tools for surveillance, but they are limited by their capabilities in other areas. Simply asserting the cops will use them for lethal actions doesn’t make it true or likely. You really need to consider what they are actually capable of before declaring that cops will be using them to kill people.

    And bringing up the APC’s and .50 cal’s and the rest doesn’t help your argument. Yes, the cops have them, but are they getting used? If they aren’t using their .50 cals and APC’s then how can you confidently declare they’d surely use armed drones should they ever get them? It looks to me like these cops bought this stuff because it was cheap or free. Is it being used and maintained? Are people being trained with all this equipment? I’ve got my doubts. Also, cops have long been able to buy select-fire “assault weapons” so I don’t see why acquiring some crappy second-hand M-16’s from the military is that big of a deal.

    Again, I agree with you about the militarization of the police and, in particular, the overuse of SWAT, I just don’t think that extends to things like drones and APC’s.

  • A bit late, but…

    You really need to consider what they are actually capable of before declaring that cops will be using them to kill people.

    I have, force protection. Using a drone in some instances can “protect” the police. Based on past evidence and behavior, that is likely to be reason enough. Why else have cops dressed up like soldiers using weapons like soldiers and serving drug warrants. There are two reasons:

    1. Evidence preservation
    2. Force protection.

    If a drone can be used in some instances to protect the force and even preserve evidence, then I have little doubt they’ll be used.

    Again, I agree with you about the militarization of the police and, in particular, the overuse of SWAT, I just don’t think that extends to things like drones and APC’s.</blockquote.

    This is where you are wrong, at least regarding APCs. They already have APCs.

Leave a Comment