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Spy Drones Used To Hunt Down Christopher Dorner 498

Posted by samzenpus
from the eye-in-the-sky dept.
Hugh Pickens writes writes "The Express reports that as a task force of 125 officers continue their search for Christopher Dorner in the rugged terrain around Big Bear, it was revealed that Dorner has become the first human target for remotely-controlled airborne drones on US soil. 'The thermal imaging cameras the drones use may be our only hope of finding him,' says a senior police source. 'On the ground, it's like looking for a needle in a haystack.' The use of drones was confirmed by Customs and Border Patrol spokesman Ralph DeSio, who revealed agents have been prepared for Dorner to make a dash for the Mexican border since his rampage began. 'This agency has been at the forefront of domestic use of drones by law enforcement.' Dorner, who was fired from the LAPD in 2008 for lying about a fellow officer he accused of misconduct, has vowed to wreak revenge by 'killing officers and their families.' According to San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon: 'To be honest, he could be anywhere right now. Torching his own vehicle could have been a diversion to throw us off track. Anything is possible with this man.'"
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Spy Drones Used To Hunt Down Christopher Dorner

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  • not the first one (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 11, 2013 @01:04PM (#42861663)

    http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,2135132,00.html

    "In June 2011 a county sheriff in North Dakota was trying to track down three men, possibly carrying guns, in connection with some missing cows. He had a lot of ground to cover, so — as one does — he called in a Predator drone from a local Air Force base. It not only spotted the men but could see that they were in fact unarmed. It was the first time a Predator had been involved in the arrest of U.S. citizens."

    • by paiute (550198) on Monday February 11, 2013 @01:08PM (#42861719)
      Well, looks like we can just wipe our collective asses with the Posse Comitatus Act.
      • Re:not the first one (Score:5, Informative)

        by Amouth (879122) on Monday February 11, 2013 @01:23PM (#42862007)

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

        "In December 1981, additional laws were enacted clarifying permissible military assistance to civilian law enforcement agencies and the Coast Guard, especially in combating drug smuggling into the United States. Posse Comitatus clarifications emphasize supportive and technical assistance (e.g., use of facilities, vessels, and aircraft, as well as intelligence support, technological aid, and surveillance) while generally prohibiting direct participation of Department of Defense personnel in law enforcement (e.g., search, seizure, and arrests). For example, a U.S. Navy vessel may be used to track, follow, and stop a vessel suspected of drug smuggling, but Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachments (LEDETs) embarked aboard the Navy vessel would perform the actual boarding and, if needed, arrest the suspect vessel's crew."

        Sounds to me like requesting assistance of an aircraft and intelligence support is perfectly fine as long as the Sheriff in question is who made the arrest and not someone from the Air-force.

        • by lennier (44736)

          In December 1981, additional laws were enacted clarifying permissible military assistance to civilian law enforcement agencies

          That's interesting. So Posse Comitatus isn't a fundamental Constitutional principle at all and can be arbitrarily rewritten by Congress at whim. I presume a future Congress could "clarify" the Act further to say that the military doing anything in US domestic territory short of dropping a nuke is perfectly legal.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 11, 2013 @01:15PM (#42861849)

      ....that making guns illegal for civilian use would not prevent evil cops like this one from murdering people.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 11, 2013 @01:20PM (#42861943)
        This is true. We should also not equip the evil cops with guns. We will have a form that we give them when they sign up with an alignment question.
      • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Monday February 11, 2013 @02:31PM (#42863263) Homepage Journal

        Let ME point out, that LAPD are civilians. I get so tired of hearing cops refer to citizens as "civilians". And, when citizens go along with the designation, that only makes it worse.

        Veterans and active duty of the armed forces commonly refer to "civilians". Police departments aren't veterans, and they employ relatively few veterans. Dorner is a veteran, so he can refer to you as civilians.

        To your point - if a civilian cop can have a weapon, then any civilian who is of sound mind, and not a convict, should have access to the same weapons. You are ALL civilians!

        • by Grishnakh (216268) on Monday February 11, 2013 @03:37PM (#42864335)

          Sorry, no. Police are not civilians; that's why the police call non-police citizens "civilians". Obviously, they wouldn't use that term if police were also civilians.

          Police (in the USA) are a paramilitary force. That means they're neither full military, nor civilian. For parallels, read up on the Brownshirts and the SS.

        • by Marful (861873) on Monday February 11, 2013 @07:17PM (#42866933)
          That's why the police in CA have all sorts of exemptions from the penal code:
          Like the ability to purchase Off-Roster Handguns that aren't on the California Approved "Safe Handgun List" for personal use despite their department issuing them their duty weapon. (Non LEO-Citizens cannot).
          The ability to buy standard capacity magazines that hold more than 10 rounds for their personal firearms despite these magazines being provided with their duty weapon. (Non LEO-Citizens cannot).
          Or the ability to purchase an Assault Weapons after the end of the registration period for personal use, despite their department providing Assault Weapons (or even actual Assault Rifles...) for their use in each squad car. (Non LEO-Citizens cannot).

          That is just one area where LEO's gain more "privilege" that us mere citizens, think of how LEO's can get out of traffic tickets, can disobey the law, get preferential treatment with all the discounts (despite making six figures...) and can perjure themselves on their official documents and/or in court at whim with impunity.

          No, the Police are a Privileged class of citizen above and beyond a mere civilian.

          And if you have ever heard LEO's talking to each other about us mere peasants, you'd realize how much contempt they have for, and how much they consider themselves above us mere civilians.
  • Uncomfortable (Score:4, Informative)

    by Dexter Herbivore (1322345) on Monday February 11, 2013 @01:04PM (#42861665) Journal
    This comes uncomfortably closely after the latest announcement of the drone authorisation map. [extremetech.com]
    • Re:Uncomfortable (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Darinbob (1142669) on Monday February 11, 2013 @02:12PM (#42862853)

      "Drone" seems to have too many meanings. If it's ok to send a helicopter in the air to search for someone, what's wrong with sending a light unmanned vehicle into the air as well for the very same purpose? It's not like these are going to be firing missiles or calling in air strikes ala Afghan/Pakistan.

      • Nothing, until they get cheap enough that they're swarming all over the place and everywhere has as much video surveillance as London.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by EdZ (755139)

          as much video surveillance as London

          So, most of the cameras are either broken or dummies, the vast majority of the rest are recorded at 1 fps with 4 cameras to a 320x240 MJPEG file, and none of these are networked to any centralised agency. Maybe 1% - or a fraction of - are both of useful quality, externally directable, and remotely addressable from a central agency or location.

          Yeah, we've got a lot of surveillance. But it's almost all shit surveillance.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 11, 2013 @01:04PM (#42861667)

    That are equipped with similar sensors.

    • by Dexter Herbivore (1322345) on Monday February 11, 2013 @01:10PM (#42861761) Journal
      No different, except for the massive difference in operating costs. How much does a chopper pilot get paid, how much in dollar terms does the fuel cost, how much does the vehicle cost to build? How much does a drone cost in comparison? Ubiquitous surveillance isn't necessarily a goal we want to aim for as a society.
      • by synapse7 (1075571) on Monday February 11, 2013 @01:17PM (#42861873)
        What do drone "operator(s)" get paid compared to a helicopter pilot?
      • by Sarten-X (1102295)

        Ubiquitous surveillance isn't necessarily a goal we want to aim for as a society.

        Why not? Honestly, it's something I'm pretty okay with. I like the idea of being able to check on my house while I'm at the office, and be sure everything's as it should be. I like the idea of the police recording my house constantly, so if someone breaks in, there's a clear recording of what happened and where they went. I like the idea of being able to shout to my ever-listening surveillance system for help and have paramedics respond.

        What I don't like is having that surveillance used for injustice. I do

    • by alexander_686 (957440) on Monday February 11, 2013 @01:10PM (#42861763)

      True – but helicopters are expensive to operate – drones are much cheaper. I am mindful of the slippery slope logical fallacy but it does bring us one step closer to 24 hour surveillance.

  • Fascinating stuff (Score:5, Interesting)

    by paiute (550198) on Monday February 11, 2013 @01:06PM (#42861683)
    Christ, this whole thing is entertaining in a macabre way that I should not be enjoying, but I am. It's like bad guys vs badder guys. I don't know who to root against from day to day.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 11, 2013 @01:12PM (#42861797)
      I get where you're coming from. What the guy did was wrong, no doubt, shooting those cops, but the LAPD is notorious for abuses like the was fired for accusing the other cop of. He was likely unstable to begin with and being fired for trying to do the right thing probably caused him to snap. Everybody has a breaking point after which people behave differently than they ordinarily would. This guy reached his. Moral of the story: if you see a superior doing something wrong, like beating a homeless guy: don't report it.
      • Moral of the story: if you see a superior doing something wrong, like beating a homeless guy: don't report it.

        Well, sure, if you're an honor-less piece of human detritus.

        For men with honor, few as they may be, the moral is: report the abuse, get fired; take every legal avenue possible, get shut out by a system gamed against you; when all other options are exhausted, take your honor back by force.

        Thank goodness the British Empire didn't have drones, or we'd all be having tea and crumpets right about now.

    • by synapse7 (1075571)
      I missed it, what is he seeking revenge for?
      • Re:Fascinating stuff (Score:5, Informative)

        by realityimpaired (1668397) on Monday February 11, 2013 @01:23PM (#42861997)

        He believes the LAPD ruined his life, because he accused his trainer of beating up a civilian while he was doing his first week mentorship, and those charges were dropped after an investigation revealed that they were false. The "ruining his life" part comes because the LAPD then dismissed him for making a false charge: they felt he was a risk to have on the force.

        Regardless of whether the civilian in question was actually assaulted as he accuses, this incident kind of proves their point...

        • by rtb61 (674572)

          Kind of of sad that they have to offer a million dollar reward for the capture of this man, really indicates how unpopular the police have become. Apparently the public would is more likely to protect him so that he can continue his revenge against the police, so the police, are forced to offer a massive reward. This reward yet again reminds people how much the police in that jurisdiction value their lives over the lives of the general public.

          • Re:Fascinating stuff (Score:5, Informative)

            by sjames (1099) on Monday February 11, 2013 @01:58PM (#42862595) Homepage

            Also noted in TFA, police wounded a mother and daughter when they opened fire on a similar looking pickup truck without verifying their target. Perhaps that's why LAPD is so unpopular.

            It's the sort of thing that makes one wonder if his report was actually false in the first place.

            • Also noted in TFA, police wounded a mother and daughter when they opened fire on a similar looking pickup truck without verifying their target.

              Taking bets on the end result to that one - my money is on "paid administrative leave during 'investigation,' cleared of any wrongdoing, back on the streets in 2-3 weeks"

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by volxdragon (1297215)
                I'm surprised this aspect isn't getting more press - did you see the pictures of their truck? We're not talking 1 or 2 bullet holes, it looks like it was in a war zone...
                • I'm surprised this aspect isn't getting more press - did you see the pictures of their truck? We're not talking 1 or 2 bullet holes, it looks like it was in a war zone...

                  Yea, I noticed the little round-counting cards numbered to at least 46...

                  My guess is, the LAPD will try and keep that one on the DL until the whole Chris Dorner thing blows over, then, once the world is no longer paying attention, quietly sweep the whole mess under the rug.

                • by sjames (1099) on Monday February 11, 2013 @03:41PM (#42864391) Homepage

                  In further reading, apparently all of the nearby homes and cars are also riddled with bullets. So, we can add reckless disregard for the safety of bystanders to the charges against the LAPD.

                  • by DMUTPeregrine (612791) on Monday February 11, 2013 @06:31PM (#42866629) Journal
                    And not knowing how to aim.
                    There shouldn't have been any bullets fired, but if you're sure of your target* and going to fire at least hit the damn target. There should have been a nice big ragged hole where the driver's head is, not bullets all over the place.

                    *the vehicle shot was the wrong make and the wrong color. It looked nothing like the suspect vehicle. The police fired without warning. This is inexcusable. Not knowing how to aim is a training problem, firing on non-suspect targets should always result in jail time on felony charges of assault with a deadly weapon (or similar) and permanent removal from law enforcement.

                    There are 5 rules of gun use/safety. All are of equal importance.
                            All firearms are loaded. - There are no exceptions. Don't pretend that this is true. Know that it is and handle all firearms accordingly. Do not believe it when someone says: "It isn't loaded."
                            Never let the muzzle of a firearm point at anything you are not willing to destroy. - If you are not willing to see a bullet hole in it do not allow a firearm's muzzle to point at it. This includes things like your foot, the TV, the refrigerator, the dog, or anything else that would cause general upset if a hole appeared in it.
                            Keep your finger off the trigger unless your sights are on the target. - Danger abounds if you keep your finger on the trigger when you are not about to shoot. Speed is not gained by prematurely placing your finger on the trigger as bringing a firearm to bear on a target takes more time than it takes to move your finger to the trigger. Negligent discharges would be eliminated if this rule were followed 100% of the time.
                            Be sure of your target and what is behind it. - Never shoot at sounds or a target you cannot positively identify. Know what is in line with the target and what is behind it (bullets are designed to go through things). Be aware of your surroundings whether on a range, in the woods, or in a potentially lethal conflict.
                          Take nothing for granted. Check everything by sight and touch. EVERY TIME!

                    Violation of any of the 5 rules should be grounds for mandatory retraining at the minimum.
                    • by sjames (1099)

                      Honestly, the whole incident more closely resembled gang violence than professionals using their firearms in the line of duty. So much so that they should be treated accordingly under the law.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Anonymous Coward

              It was not a similar looking pickup truck. The vehicle shot was neither a Nissan Titan, nor was it grey. It was a blue Toyota Tacoma. And the police engaged the vehicle without issuing any orders to the occupants. No sirens, no verbal commands, nothing. Just *POW POW POW*. LAPD's mistake? They didnt kill the two occupants. Now they will face a civil lawsuit that they cannot win. Often if the victim is killed, then there are no first hand accounts of what happened. Its standard police procedure. I

            • by QuantumRiff (120817) on Monday February 11, 2013 @03:00PM (#42863787)

              Even more interesting, was 30 min later, they shot up another pickup, 2 blocks away from the first shooting..

            • by fatphil (181876)
              "Similar" as in "different brand, different colour, and with a different number of people of different gender in it"?

              They're scared. They've got twitchy trigger fingers. And they certainly aren't professional. They're not the kind of people who I would want policing me, that's for sure.
        • by vilanye (1906708)
          No it doesn't.

          You could take a 60 year old who has never even thought of harming anyone, and mistreat him to the point where he would go on a rampage.
          • by Rockoon (1252108)
            Or you could indiscriminately fire 40+ rounds into a vehicle containing a 71 year old woman and her daughter without any warning at all, triggering otherwise rational people into considering a rampage.
        • by Blue Stone (582566) on Monday February 11, 2013 @01:36PM (#42862247) Homepage Journal

          >"those charges were dropped after an investigation revealed that they were false."

          Alternatively, with more neutrality and less bias:

          "those charges were dropped after an investigation concluded that they were false."

          I mean ... unless you're certain that the LAPD would never cover up wrong doing to protect their own.

          • I mean ... unless you're certain that the LAPD would never cover up wrong doing to protect their own.

            I'm old enough to remember the testimony given by Sgt. Stacey Koon... your point is well taken. :)

        • Re:Fascinating stuff (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Holi (250190) on Monday February 11, 2013 @01:58PM (#42862601)

          Yes they concluded that it was a false statement, while completely ignoring the fact that the victim and the victims father corroborated his story. Not that any of this excuses his actions in the slightest.

          • by 0111 1110 (518466) on Monday February 11, 2013 @02:24PM (#42863107)

            Not that any of this excuses his actions in the slightest.

            I agree that killing the bad cops is an over-reaction, but otherwise he does sound like one of the good guys who got fired for violating the blue wall of silence.

            The problem is that seeking justice against a cop is a problematic endeavor. Short of improbably convincing evidence that is quite rare in the real world, getting a DA to prosecute a cop for anything is nearly impossible. So our justice system doesn't punish them. Period. Not even for murder (well unless it's for the murder of another cop of course).

            So if you are a justice minded person what do you do? Just accept that the system sucks and live with the injustice? Killing them may be an overly harsh punishment depending on what the cops actually did, but it is pretty much the only thing you can do against them. These guys are armed pretty much all the time. This is what happens when our justice system breaks down and seeks injustice instead. This is one of the practical problems with a corrupt system where a certain privileged elite are above the law.

            It's also important to keep in mind that the murdered cops may have threatened Dorner's life. He may have had reason to believe that they would have murdered him, and of course got away with it, if he hadn't killed them first. The code of the Blue Wall may have allowed that. In their view he is a 'rat'. Think about what criminal gangs do to rats. Aside from the badges they carry, police are indistinguishable from criminal gangs and this guy turned against them.

          • Re:Fascinating stuff (Score:4, Informative)

            by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Monday February 11, 2013 @03:28PM (#42864207)
            The victim was an unreliable witness because of his mental problems, the victim's father based his testimony on the victim's statements (meaning that the father's testimony was of limited value). That being said, those statements lend credibility to Dorner's complaint. However, weighed against that is the fact that he made the allegation two weeks after the incident and the day after his mentor had given him an evaluation that critiqued him for certain aspects of his learning to do the job (the mentor evaluated him as "satisfactory" but it is likely that when they explained his evaluation to him they explained to him that his shortcomings were critical and failure to improve them could cost him his job).
            • by 0111 1110 (518466) on Monday February 11, 2013 @03:38PM (#42864361)

              Anyone with any sort of real experience with the police, or anyone who has ever searched youtube for "police brutality" already knows who to believe. Why would a cop choose to bring a shitstorm upon himself for no good reason? No one would do that. Dorner's story is simply more plausible and far more likely to be the truth than yet another "false accusation". To the cops themselves every accusation is a false one. And he sure as hell isn't going on a rampage of revenge over a merely satisfactory evaluation. Give me a break. This is the result of the unjust system, of the Blue Wall of Silence, which protects police from their own violent, sadistic crimes.

    • by sjwest (948274)

      Remind you of the film the running man ?

    • by sl4shd0rk (755837)

      Christ, this whole thing is entertaining in a macabre way that I should not be enjoying,

      This is the second problem America has which perpetuates the first problem.

    • You should root for the people who arent running around doing extra-judical killing sprees, and instead root for the people who are trying to catch him.

      Just because the world isnt perfect doesnt mean you lose track of perspective and stop caring about whether a serial killer is caught or not. Do you really mean to imply that you think that the cops who have been killed all deserved it?

      • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Monday February 11, 2013 @02:27PM (#42863173) Homepage Journal

        You should root for the people who arent running around doing extra-judical killing sprees, and instead root for the people who are trying to catch him.

        But I thought you said were weren't supposed to root for the ones engaging in extra-judicial killing sprees?

        Oh, I see, the LAPD only wounded innocent people, so they're still the good guys, I guess?

  • No problem (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 11, 2013 @01:07PM (#42861705)

    Use drones. Keep shooting random civilians until you find this man. Whatever it takes.

  • The way it begins (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Compaqt (1758360) on Monday February 11, 2013 @01:07PM (#42861709) Homepage

    Of course, who could oppose using hundreds of drones to hunt down a cop-killer.

    And the next suggestion will be, "Wouldn't it be a good idea for the drones to be able to fire, too?" So the next thing you know, you've got weaponized drones.

    And after a decade or so, they won't be used to find mass murderers. Merely traffic offenders or people late on their alimony.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      As long as they use the drones to find the cops that shoot up random civilian vehicles and punish the cops.

      http://articles.latimes.com/2013/feb/08/local/la-me-torrance-shooting-20130209

      I'm all for purging the police with a little, nay a lot, of Police Style justice.

    • by cornjones (33009) on Monday February 11, 2013 @01:17PM (#42861875) Homepage

      YOu don't even have to weaponize them for this to be scary (not that they won't). "Look how useful, and much safer than helicopters.", "These are so cheap, we can keep them up all day", "More in the air means more criminals caught", "We could have caught him quicker if we recorded all of this"

  • by wbr1 (2538558) on Monday February 11, 2013 @01:14PM (#42861835)
    We can find lost hikers, boy scouts, love struck teenage couples lost in the wilderness with this! Just look the other way when we use it to imprison or kill enemies of the state.
  • first human target (Score:5, Insightful)

    by corporate zombie (218482) on Monday February 11, 2013 @01:16PM (#42861867)

    Have the drones on the border only been going after sub-humans?

  • You have to wonder (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lucas123 (935744) on Monday February 11, 2013 @01:18PM (#42861901) Homepage
    Dorner kills and posts a diatribe about the LADP's corruption and abuse of the public, citing cases like Rodney King. I wonder if Dorner's plan all along was to create mayhem and then let the LADP step into it and bring their abuses to light through their own actions. Already, the LADP has opened fire on two people in cases of mistaken identity in the search for Dorner.
  • This is all cool and what-not but he's not there. He drove away in a car he left where the burned out truck was found.
    This dude is scary as shit and they're not going to find him this easily.
  • by wcrowe (94389) on Monday February 11, 2013 @01:43PM (#42862367)

    Once again, xkcd [xkcd.com] tells it like it is for would be survivalists.

  • by DarkOx (621550) on Monday February 11, 2013 @01:55PM (#42862553) Journal

    You know just over 30 years ago, "The use of unnecessary force has been approved" read over the police dispatch was a laugh line from a comedy. Now its apparent SOP in a completely serious way.

  • by mad flyer (589291) on Monday February 11, 2013 @02:22PM (#42863053)

    "' Dorner, who was fired from the LAPD in 2008 for lying about a fellow officer he accused of misconduct"

    You seems to be drinking the cool aid too easily. Every other source, the lapd over reaction and Dorners manifesto lead to believe that corruption coverups and raw incompetence was the name of the game for Lapd.

    Ok Dorner is enemy public #1
    but the LAPD looks like a fitting enemy public #2 and not just because they are shooting at anyhthing looking even remotely like a Nissan Pickup truck...

  • by Koreantoast (527520) on Monday February 11, 2013 @03:50PM (#42864535)
    Sensationalist headline on multiple levels. First, law enforcement has been using drones already, ranging from cattle theft to border patrol. Second, the headline is trying to conflate the image with that of an ARMED drone which is extremely misleading; it's like saying that a law enforcement agency is targeting people with helicopters then posting a picture of an AH-64 Apache. This is not to negate the very real concerns that unmanned platforms introduce for law enforcement and civil liberties, but we shouldn't let hysteria get in the away of creating smarter policies.

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