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VA Governor Wants Military Drones For Police 183

Posted by Soulskill
from the these-are-not-the-drones-you're-looking-for dept.
New submitter Screen404-O writes "During a radio interview, Virginia governor Bob McDonnell suggested that using unmanned drones to assist police would be 'great' and 'the right thing to do.' 'Increased safety and reduced manpower are among the reasons the U.S. military and intelligence community use drones on the battlefield, which is why it should be considered in Virginia, he says. ... McDonnell added Tuesday it will prove important to ensure the state maintains Americans' civil liberties, such as privacy, if it adds drones to its law enforcement arsenal.' Is this the next step toward militarizing our law enforcement agencies? How exactly can they ensure our privacy, when even the Air Force can't?"
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VA Governor Wants Military Drones For Police

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  • by MikeMacK (788889) on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @05:13PM (#40160501)
    We can call them the transvaginal ultra drones...
    • by ohnocitizen (1951674) on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @05:45PM (#40160859)

      McDonnell added Tuesday it will prove important to ensure the state maintains Americans' civil liberties

      . "Not 'Top of the list' important", McDonnell continued, "but up there with other priorities I share with the VA GOP, like the environment, public education, and a woman's right to choose."

    • No, no. You're mixing up your memes. If it's flying saucer/robot drones, then it's anal probes not vaginal. All the abductees are pretty clear on this point.
    • by jamstar7 (694492) on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @07:19PM (#40161837)
      How's this for an idea?

      The first cunt we fly one of these things up should be the Governor himself.
    • Hey, where are all the Republican trolls who like to claim that party affiliation only gets omitted when a Democrat does something bad? This guy's not just a Republican, but as right-leaning as they come. I guess all those GOPers will have to admit that they were full of it? Hahaha, as if.

      And for the record, I couldn't care less which party he's from, and I happen to agree with him on this issue. I've got no problem with the government using unmanned drones to handle tasks previously performed by men in

      • Better be ready with your mist nets.

        • With insurance so high it would be impossible to afford coverage for errant drones falling from the sky. Mist nets will be the only way the public will be able to protect itself. Prepare to see helium place on the list of forbidden substances.

    • Sounds as if some of the republicans want them in place now, as the economic collapse they have been initiated to gain control of the White House seems to have accelerated faster than they expected it to. Seems as if things were a lot closer to the edge than they thought. Wonder if the drone plants in Mississippi will have sufficient capacity to meet the demand necessary to protect the entire 1%. What happens when the 99% find out? It pretty clear that Keynes and Krugman are right. Wonder if there will

      • by danbuter (2019760)
        It's not just the Republicans doing this, unless you ignore lots of Democrats like Barney Frank and Chris Dodd, who were actively engaged in sinking the housing market. Unfortunately, both parties kind of suck.
      • by flyneye (84093)

        Let me correct your English to something more accurate, just replace Republican in your post with Repubmocrat. There is no important differences in the parties and you can be sure of several of your assumed buddies, the Dems voting for it too. It always feels like we've lost the planet when I see poor suckers arguing over Republican/Democrat issues instead of uniting to rid ourselves of what is really a one party dictatorship masquerading as two opposing sides.

  • Papers please (Score:4, Insightful)

    by chadenright (1344231) <.chadenright. .at. .hotmail.com.> on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @05:19PM (#40160553) Journal
    So, do they want them for the ability to conduct unmanned remote assassinations? Or do they think the drones are going to be able to give speeding and parking tickets?
    • by MikeMacK (788889)
      Wonder how long it will take before a Virginian shoots one down...
    • My first guess is to use them in a pinch when tracking down fleeing suspects. I didn't see the kind of drones mentioned, but somehow I doubt it's going to be global hawks. Rather, something to replace helicopters perhaps?
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        #Other states
        I'd agree.

        #Virginia
        Traffic Enforcement. If you report a rape, you might as well play Monopoly to pass the time. If you report a guy in a red sport compact doing 5 over, the VSP practically teleport there.

    • Of course they don't want to use the drones to assassinate American citizens. They just want to arrest American terro er... I mean criminals.

    • by ae1294 (1547521)

      You make a joke but as someone who has lived in Virginia there are signs everywhere that say 'speed limit enforced by aircraft' [alienspouse.com]

      • by jd (1658)

        Yeah, but it's not normally considered to mean "violators will be stopped with hellfire missiles", although apparently nobody has told the VA governor this.

        • by Salgak1 (20136)
          But only outside of peak traffic hours. Hellfires tend to cause hellacious traffic backups, not to mention rubbernecking delays. . .
        • by ganjadude (952775)
          using drones != to shooting them down with missiles.

          I dont like being spied on any more than the rest of us, but lets not pretend that using a unmanned plane to do the same job as a manned helicopter is the same thing as shooting down speeders with a missile
          • by 0111 1110 (518466)

            Let's not pretend that the police will restrict their use only to situations where they would have used a helicopter. You really think the point of these things is to save money? You really think police departments are going to sell their helicopters? Think again. Think Tasers. They were only supposed to be used in situations where before they would have used a firearm. Instead they are used to torture [wired.com] someone into compliance or just to torture someone for insulting them or disrespecting them in some way or

        • by ae1294 (1547521)

          Yeah, but it's not normally considered to mean "violators will be stopped with hellfire missiles", although apparently nobody has told the VA governor this.

          Well now you know, bring your anti-aircraft sams. Can't afford them? That's your problem. It's a brave new world of greed and fear of death from above for the poor. Which is you... yes you... if you ain't in the top 400 than you're poor and your life has no purpose other than to serve the glorious elite.

    • Speeding tickets. Virginia is one of the few states to ban radar detectors. Plus their "reckless driving" stature comes with criminal misdemeanor charges and nice big fines.
      • Speeding tickets. Virginia is one of the few states to ban radar detectors. Plus their "reckless driving" stature comes with criminal misdemeanor charges and nice big fines.

        Not to mention that 20 mph over posted speed limit or 80 mph gives you automatic reckless driving.

  • by UPZ (947916) on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @05:22PM (#40160595)
    Because your home is the real battlefield.
  • by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @05:27PM (#40160671) Homepage

    I want public Video cameras all over the VA governors mansion and private home.

    He can have the drones as soon as he let's us install tons of cameras all over in his home that allow anyone to watch him.

    If he is against it, what is he hiding?

    • I want video cameras peeking into his meetings with lobbyists, so that we can replay them again at his trial. Surely, someone might catch a stray packet or two, just by chance.

  • by Hentes (2461350) on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @05:32PM (#40160737)

    Cameras can do the same job, are much cheaper, don't need supervision and can be set up not to be intrusive. A policeman controlling a drone that's patrolling an area could just as well get on his bike and do the patrol himself.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @06:23PM (#40161271)

      As someone who works for a company that builds drones... you are absolutely correct.

      They have a time and a place where they are useful, but there's a time and a place where they're NOT. I could maybe see them being useful along the border, where exists many miles of barren-ass desert (south) or frozen-ass tundra (north) that would be difficult for a human to patrol... but if you want a military-grade weapon walking your beat down the local Main Street, fuck right off.

      If anything, more cops need to be out and about bolstering public image. Walk your beat (or ride a bike), help people and generally don't be a douche. You'll be amazed at what some sweet PR can do for you.

      • Not to mention fallen drone reclamation.

      • by Culture20 (968837)

        They have a time and a place where they are useful, but there's a time and a place where they're NOT. I could maybe see them being useful along the border

        ...which is should be a military patrol anyway.

  • What is up these politician's asses? Besides their heads, I mean.

    This isn't a war. But some of the politicians seem dead set on making it one.

    Hint, politicians: today it is not only quite possible, but not even that difficult to make a drone-killing missile in one's basement, complete with propeller- or heat-seeking electronics. And they'd never see it coming. ("Missile" might be misleading: it might be simpler and cheaper to make a self-guided ballistic projectile.)

    I'm not suggesting that I would
    • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @05:38PM (#40160799)
      Clarification:

      There are 2 big issues here that the politicians need to start considering, much more than they have been:

      (1) The fact that a certain technology CAN be used, and might even represent monetary savings, is largely a different question that whether it SHOULD be used.

      (2) That improved technology works both ways: not only do you have the ability to move surveillance to the sky, but also: civilians have drastically improved ability to bring it down. And strong motivation to do so.
      • by elucido (870205)

        Clarification:

        There are 2 big issues here that the politicians need to start considering, much more than they have been:

        (1) The fact that a certain technology CAN be used, and might even represent monetary savings, is largely a different question that whether it SHOULD be used.

        (2) That improved technology works both ways: not only do you have the ability to move surveillance to the sky, but also: civilians have drastically improved ability to bring it down. And strong motivation to do so.

        Why is no one asking the question if this stuff actually makes communities safer? I don't think this particular kind of surveillance will stop murders or find missing children. This kind of surveillance will be used to look into peoples houses to find marijuana plants, or meth labs, or just to give people tickets.

        • "Why is no one asking the question if this stuff actually makes communities safer?"

          Another good point. I would make that #3. And that brings up:

          (4) Safety is not the end goal of all existence. You cannot make everything 100% safe without taking all the meaning and enjoyment out of life.

          • by elucido (870205)

            "Why is no one asking the question if this stuff actually makes communities safer?"

            Another good point. I would make that #3. And that brings up:

            (4) Safety is not the end goal of all existence. You cannot make everything 100% safe without taking all the meaning and enjoyment out of life.

            Not only that but safety for one group of people could put other groups of people in greater danger. For instance if conservative Christian families want to keep their children safe from homosexuality they ban homosexuality and use drones to spy on the communities sex lives in order to police and enforce.

            This is the sort of stuff we will be dealing with. The conservative families would claim its to make them feel safer but it puts another group of people in danger of being arrested for who they are.

          • You are forgetting one important point. You are not a politician. A politician needs to be seen to be doing something to address issues that concern their constituents. Whether their actions will actually resolve the issues is beside the point. They just have to be able to tell the voters that they are taking action on their behalf.

            I don't know if this politician has given any thought to the consequences of deploying these drones in his state or not. He may not care, or he may just have heard of a how suppo

        • You don't seem to understand. Republicans are doing their utmost to see that the government is entirely dysfunctional, so that they can sell what little of the public treasure and national patrimony there is left to each other. Don't worry though, you are just firmly drawn in on their Etch-A-Sketch.

    • by elucido (870205)

      What is up these politician's asses? Besides their heads, I mean.

      This isn't a war. But some of the politicians seem dead set on making it one.

      Hint, politicians: today it is not only quite possible, but not even that difficult to make a drone-killing missile in one's basement, complete with propeller- or heat-seeking electronics. And they'd never see it coming. ("Missile" might be misleading: it might be simpler and cheaper to make a self-guided ballistic projectile.)

      I'm not suggesting that I would do that. I don't even have a basement. But you can count on the fact that somebody would.

      They aren't fooling anyone with this drone crap. Why is it okay for the police to fly drones over our houses but it's not okay for us to fly drones over the police to monitor their activities at all times?

      Why do the police get to use encryption, but if we try to use it then we are terrorists? Some stuff is none of LE business. When we are on our own property, in our own homes, and aren't hurting anyone else, they shouldn't be flying drones or wiretapping or trying to scan inside our houses with satellites.

    • "But some of the politicians seem dead set on making it one. "

      You don't seem to understand. Republicans want the government completely ineffectual, chaotic, and misguided, since our attention will be turned away from the fact that they are busy selling it to each other.

  • by SirGarlon (845873) on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @05:34PM (#40160751)

    I don't live in Virginia. I will say up front I do not the camel's nose to come under a tent in Virginia, nor any other state.

    However, let's take a deep breath and ask how, specifically, unmanned aerial vehicles will help the mission of the Virginia police forces. And how and where, specifically, will they operate?

    If the people of Virginia don't get a specific answer, then I think it's fair for them to deny the proposal on a variety of grounds. Without a specific mission in mind it is unlikely that drones will save money (they'd be just expensive new equipment with no clear purpose). Without a specific operational plan it is unlikely the drones will operate in a way compatible with FAA regulations and, oh yes, a little thing I call THE FOURTH AMENDMENT. [wikipedia.org]

    However if one were to object without hearing the specific plan first, one could more easily be dismissed as alarmist.

    I would even concede there is a remote possibility that a reasonable and effective police application of drones exists. None has not occurred to me so far.

    • Because maned helicopters are far more expensive and don't have the loiter time of a drone maybe.
    • The main thing I could see them making sense for is replacing helicopters for following suspects if on a chase (a drone would be a lot cheaper and you could have a few engaged). But there are of other valid peaceful governmental uses of drones:

      * Surveying the city. You could use them to get an idea of what areas of town needed more work than others. You could do weekly flyovers just to see if streetlights were out in an area. You could build up a highly detailed aerial map of your city/county/state and

      • by elucido (870205)

        The main thing I could see them making sense for is replacing helicopters for following suspects if on a chase (a drone would be a lot cheaper and you could have a few engaged). But there are of other valid peaceful governmental uses of drones:

        * Surveying the city. You could use them to get an idea of what areas of town needed more work than others. You could do weekly flyovers just to see if streetlights were out in an area. You could build up a highly detailed aerial map of your city/county/state and then let the people make use of that data to make cool mapping products.

        * Work in tandem with other sensors to get video on an area where needed ASAP. Video of traffic accidents moments after they occur (or any sudden drop in traffic speed). Video of an area where gunshot detectors picked up shots.

        I don't at all understand the concern over drones, they are simply cameras that are more mobile than traditional surveillance cameras. Are people concerned with drones also concerned that police cars have cameras in them?

        Obviously if you included weapons on the drones that's a whole different matter, but I've not heard anyone say they are considering weaponizing them.

        It's only a matter of time before they claim the drones need weapons to keep people from destroying or jamming them.

    • If the people of Virginia don't get a specific answer, then I think it's fair for them to deny the proposal on a variety of grounds.

      What do you mean by "the people of Virginia"? Don't forget: corporations are now people, too. And how, exactly, do they oppose this? After all, if they're against it, they must be hiding something, right?

      It really is amazing how right the "tin foil hat people" have been all along. Equally amazing is how quickly the madness (i.e. the all-out assault on, and destruction of, the

  • Why would you want drones in the sky over civilian areas? Aren't police with cars good enough to keep the peace? Does there have to be a "EYE IN THE SKY" flying overhead for people to feel safe? ---------- I happen to think that this is more about making BIG Dollars for drone manufacturers, than anything law enforcement requirements related. -------- Or maybe America is keen on showing the world, once more, how NOT TO RUN a country? ------ Stupid, stupid, stupid this whole "Police Drones" business. Reminds
  • What I want to know is how these drones are more of a threat to privacy than a manned helicopter flying around doing the same thing.

    • Ubiquitous autonomous flying robots is not the same thing at all. We dont want an automated police force because it scales far too easily.
    • There could be many more of them per police officer (let alone police force) than is feasible for helicopters.

      They're much smaller and more agile, allowing access to your daughter's hot tub^W^W^W^W more private areas.

      They're much easier to make silent, thus enabling stealth surveillance.

      They can operate 24/7/365 in aggregate.

      They'd be in the hands of people who do things like this [wusa9.com].

      • by elucido (870205)

        There could be many more of them per police officer (let alone police force) than is feasible for helicopters.

        They're much smaller and more agile, allowing access to your daughter's hot tub^W^W^W^W more private areas.

        They're much easier to make silent, thus enabling stealth surveillance.

        They can operate 24/7/365 in aggregate.

        They'd be in the hands of people who do things like this [wusa9.com].

        Each police officer could in theory operate thousands of drones all around the city. The drones could go from being large UAV's to toy airplane size, to insect size, to the size of dust particles, depending on how much money the police have and how drone is defined.

        In practice the smallest drone would be nano-dust which is about the size of a flake of rice. This would be too expensive today but if mass produced by the police all around the country the price would go down to the point where we'd have a poli

    • What I want to know is how these drones are more of a threat to privacy than a manned helicopter flying around doing the same thing.

      If you don't understand the privacy implications of UAVs, how about if they were made really small, smaller than birds? small like insect small, like fly small, and were spread by the tens of thousands throughout the city to pick up conversations, capture video, etc?

      Spire said it right, this sort of thing scales ridiculously easily. The drones will get smaller, fly for longer, get smarter, and there will eventually be thousands of them swarming an area. Honestly if this doesn't disturb you then wait until n

    • by ewieling (90662)
      The only thing which keeps people safe is the fact it is too expensive to spy on every citizen. Technology (drones, GPS, etc) is reducing the cost to spy on people. This is a very bad thing.
      • Especially, when so much of flight intelligence can be now downloaded to the cloud. In fully automated mode one of these things could go berserk as a result of a software bug and kill thousands before it's brought down. Does anyone have Lloyds of London's view on this?

  • Yes, police drones with Hellfire missles, backed by Civil asset forfeiture laws could reduce ex-urban speeding violations by 30%.
    • by jd (1658)

      It would also boost new car sales, due to the reduction of used cars on the market.

  • If there is meat in the cockpit it's a non-issue, be it police meat or the hundreds of thousands of recce aircraft training sorties the US had back when we used RF and RB-series aircraft.

    Meatless cockpits are scary, so let's use Virginia's current Bell 407s for everything instead.

  • i would rather... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    search and rescue have them

  • With drones in the air, the access to crime scenes by news helicopters and planes will be a thing of the past. The neat thing about this issue is that the gov. can say "I didn't pass any laws restricting news access to sites, it was the feds!" since the FAA will have final determination regarding access to the airspace.

    Niiiiice.

    • by elucido (870205)

      With drones in the air, the access to crime scenes by news helicopters and planes will be a thing of the past. The neat thing about this issue is that the gov. can say "I didn't pass any laws restricting news access to sites, it was the feds!" since the FAA will have final determination regarding access to the airspace.

      Niiiiice.

      They can use drones too.

  • Northrup Grumman (Score:5, Interesting)

    by brunes69 (86786) <slashdot AT keirstead DOT org> on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @05:57PM (#40161017) Homepage

    I am sure this has absolutely nothing to do with the move or Northrop Grumman's corporate HQ to Virgina in 2010, but only after a bunch of "meetings" with McDonnel.

    Nope, not a thing.

    In fact, I am sure Grumman is not going to win any of these contracts.

    http://www2.timesdispatch.com/news/2010/apr/26/grumgat26_20100426-184201-ar-156839/ [timesdispatch.com]

  • Civil-liberties-wise, what exactly is the difference between a remotely-piloted drone and a helicopter?

    I think it's a silly idea and not of much use, but I'm not seeing civil liberties implications here.

  • I can't wait for this + the revolution. It's going to be so fun shooting them down.

  • ...the U.S. military and intelligence community use drones on the battlefield, which is why it should be considered in Virginia

    But wait! There's more!

    ...it will prove important to ensure the state maintains Americans' civil liberties, such as privacy

    Does the Governer of Virginia speak English?
  • How exactly can they ensure our privacy, when even the Air Force can't?

    Who said anything about privacy?

  • Because if they start looking into houses with unmanned drones and listening to everyone I'm sure there are enough laws to lock up everyone I know.

    This is not just a bad idea, it's a treasonous idea. Unless we are declaring war on American citizens there is no reason to destroy communities with these drones. What is next? Allowing the police to attach guns and bombs to these drones?

  • Give me surveillance or give me death!

  • I suggest we all read up on our civil liberties, presumption of innocence, and the 4th, 6th, 9th, 10th and 14th amendments of the constitution. Here's a quick recap, in case anyone slept through school

    Presumption of innocence, aka "innocent until proven guilty" under drone surveillance suffers the same as current red light cameras, in that they provide no ability to confront your accuser (more on that later) and they presume guilt. Have you ever received on of those red-light-camera tickets. I've recei

  • This is America...the police can walk right up and talk to you, question your friends, hire informants, or simply park outside your house and watch for a lot less money than a single drone flight. Its not like these guys are trying to carry out surveillance in a war zone where hostile people can open fire with automatic weapons at any moment. There are no roadside bombs.

    Start militarizing the police and turning the nation into Stalinist USSR and that might change very fast.

  • Cool. I would finally get a chance to try out my HERF gun [wikipedia.org].
  • I thought Drones are for extremely hostile places where you risk the loss of life if it was manned, because the hostile environment attacks strange objects hovering on their head.

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