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Honeywell To Sell Miami-Dade Police a Surveillance Drone 253

AHuxley writes "The Miami-Dade Police Department recently finalized a deal to buy a 20-pound drone from defense firm Honeywell. The drone can fly for 40 minutes, reach heights of 10,500 feet and cruise in the air at 46 miles an hour. As the Miami-Dade Police Department has recently made a lot of budget cuts, the funding may have come from a federal grant. An eye in the sky like over Iraq and Afghanistan may soon be looking down over South Florida 'to keep people safe.' Honeywell has applied to the FAA for clearance to fly the drone in urban areas."
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Honeywell To Sell Miami-Dade Police a Surveillance Drone

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  • Surveillance (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Zouden ( 232738 ) on Friday January 07, 2011 @01:16PM (#34792984)

    The summary insinuates that this drone will be circling the skies watching the citizens below, big-brother style. But with 40 minutes flight time (and every flight would cost money) it's far more likely this would be used to track fleeing suspects, as a cheaper alternative to a helicopter.

    A solar-powered plane that can stay up for days at a time, or a blimp with cameras, would be much more threatening to our privacy. If the police want me bad enough to send a drone up to track my movements, then the drone is probably the least of my worries.

  • by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Friday January 07, 2011 @01:17PM (#34793016) Journal

    Your screed assumes that the public has the same access to all these cameras as the police.
    The reality of the situation is a bit murkier.

  • by MozeeToby ( 1163751 ) on Friday January 07, 2011 @01:20PM (#34793084)

    Hey, guess what. Even if I'm a total ass-hat to the police, unless I actually put them in danger I don't deserve any legal repercussions for it, let alone being threatened with years in prison. The OP was completely within his rights to close the door on the police officers, unless he slammed it as hard as possible with no warning and the intention to cause harm I don't see how he should possibly be charged with anything.

  • pick ten random people on the street

    most will have cell phones

    most of those cell phones will have cameras

    in fact, most will be turned on, pointed at the police, should they see the police do something abusive

    and that video will be on youtube 10 minutes later, and on the evening news by the 6 pm broadcast

    that's reality

    now wake up

  • Re:Surveillance (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Yold ( 473518 ) on Friday January 07, 2011 @01:32PM (#34793272)

    it's far more likely this would be used to track fleeing suspects

    On what? A moped? Its got a (reported) top speed of 42 mph... It seems like a waste of money to me.

    The only sensible use seems to be equipping it with FLIR and using it to find suspects who are hiding outdoors. Even though SCOTUS has ruled that it is unconstitutional to use FLIR for fly-over searches (think indoor marijuana grow operations), I suspect that this is an ulterior motive behind the purchase. In which case, you should be concerned about your privacy because these FLIR cameras can literally peer into your bedroom.

  • by russotto ( 537200 ) on Friday January 07, 2011 @01:34PM (#34793314) Journal

    Why? The police are merely enforcing the laws and protect human rights from thieves, murderers, et cetera. An eye-in-the-sky helps them complete that mission.

    You're not too familiar with the Miami-Dade police department, or indeed with police in general, are you?

  • by TheCarp ( 96830 ) <sjc@carpanet.PERIODnet minus punct> on Friday January 07, 2011 @01:38PM (#34793386) Homepage

    Or worst he is one. It really is hard to maintain perspective when your paycheck requires you to have your head so far up your own ass that you can't see how little of what you do actually makes a difference, and how much of it is needlessly harming other people for little reason more than supporting the prison-industrial complex and auto insurance companies.

  • by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Friday January 07, 2011 @01:42PM (#34793456) Journal

    Yeah. I was held by Homeland Gestapo when I refused to let them search my car's trunk w/o a warrant. They made me stand in the hot Texas sun for over an hour.

    BUT as I said in my original message: If you are think there are some laws that are too onerous, then modify the law rather than weaken the enforcement. The police are just doing what the politicians told them to do (via laws); it's the politicians you need to denigrate and force them to change the law (or else fire them). In my specific case I'd like to see laws put in place that provide mandatory jailtime for Homeland Security/police when they perform unconstitutional, warrantless searches.

    But in the case of the drone, if you steal or murder in plain view of..... well everyone..... then you deserve to get arrested.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 07, 2011 @01:53PM (#34793620)

    Being an asshat is not illegal. Arresting someone on false charges is not "likewise behavior", it's illegal.

  • by __aagctu1952 ( 768423 ) on Friday January 07, 2011 @01:53PM (#34793622)

    I'm not saying one is right and one is wrong, but I find the contrast confusing... Is it simply the case that surveillance is OK provided it's difficult? If that's the case, why do we allow helicopters at all? Or in the case of manned surveillance, why are the police allowed to use radios? Shouldn't they have to use call boxes? Either we're OK with the concept, or we're not.

    The difference is that "difficult" surveillance can't be mounted on a massive scale - they actually have to be frugal in its use. They can't go around tracking everyone; they have to be pretty sure they have the right people to follow before committing the resources to it.
    "Easy" surveillance OTOH, can be used to simply monitor everyone. Well, actually, that should read "will" instead of "can". It's basically Murphy's law as applied to surveillance: if the opportunity exists to misuse a law or technology, it will be misused. Surveilling everyone is way easier than bothering with all that pesky "probable cause" nonsense.

  • by couchslug ( 175151 ) on Friday January 07, 2011 @02:03PM (#34793764)

    Helicopter flying hours are very expensive, which is why even in wartime they aren't used for long loiter missions.

  • by equex ( 747231 ) on Friday January 07, 2011 @02:15PM (#34793940) Homepage
    Exactly how many laws have been changed and politicians gotten fired due to common peoples demands ? Pretty close to zero? That is why people are thinking about building rocket launchers before trying to reason with those idiots. Laws that punish law enforcement ? Not in anyones lifetime. This kind of people go into politics and enforcement to stay above the law and will keep it that way.
  • by lostmongoose ( 1094523 ) on Friday January 07, 2011 @02:31PM (#34794140)

    The police are just doing what the politicians told them to do

    You know who else was just doing what the politicians told them to do? Nazis. That excuse didn't work then, it shouldn't work now.

  • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Friday January 07, 2011 @02:53PM (#34794446) Homepage Journal
    I guess the next 'logical' step for the drones that bothers me is....arming them.

    I've yet to see a govt. or law enforcement entity not try to extend on any powers given to them yet. They now use RICO to go after non-organized crimes. Remember when they needed warrants for most any cause? That's rapidly disappearing.

    I see a very short leap in logic to, "if we had the eye in the sky armed, we could disable criminals as they moved about..".

    Also how about the next step..."well, if the public doesn't mind be watched by a few drones, we could also see things better and cover wider area, if we just set up cameras everywhere in the city, much like England does".

    Any tool they have, can and often will be abused. Tasers? Seemed like a good idea, to have a non-lethal force weapon...not as much gun play. However, look at the overuse of tasers these days on people and situations that just do not call for that level of force.

    I'm for heavily questioning any new *tool* given to the police...they really need to justify it in a huge way because of the potential for it to be abused by them on less than criminal public activities.

    This thing sound something like an unmanned Blue Thunder.

  • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Friday January 07, 2011 @03:54PM (#34795302) Homepage Journal
    "You're on a public street. You have no expectation of privacy in that area, so I see no reason to oppose it. You shouldn't be doing things where you might be seen by a cop's eyes (either directly or via electronic feed). - And remember: We the people now have the ability to turn it around, and videocam anything the cops are doing, and upload those vids to youtube to embarrass those cops who act like gestapo."

    I dunno. I believe in the no expectation of privacy when on a public space to the extent of it being available only to human eyes. It is a different thing, however, to have that extrapolated to being stored on tape or whatever media, computer enhanced, computer analyzed...and kept for long periods of time to be viewed by any number of people (some in power) over any length of time. Information used this way to find patterns in your life apart from this one area (tracking your movements actions, etc).

    I don't mind if John Q Public or Jane P. Officer seems me walking down the street, and remembers it as long as they please. But I don't want them following me around with a camera, recording my movements, etc. Don't put me under observations UNTIL I am under suspicion for criminal activity.

    That's the way it is supposed to work, not just using tech to set out a huge drag net to try to catch a criminal and scooping up info on innocent people in the process.

    What if there is a murder somewhere? If you're filmed or somehow tracked to be in the area at that time, guess what? You're automatically a suspect. No problem with that since your innocent? I guess that's ok...since no one has ever been wrongly accused, convicted and incarcerated/executed before.

    Frankly, I don't want my name on list of potentials which will happen with expanded observation and tracking.

    And as for turning the camera on those in power? Have you seen the recent posts on /. about this? I think it is in Penn. where people trying to film/record the cops in action have actually been convicted of illegal wiretapping and have felony charges (maybe even convictions).

    I think that those in govt and law enforcement SHOULD be the ones under constant surveillance...since they have so much power over the general public. The general public, however, should have the right to as much privacy as possible, and be left alone as much as possible.

    That last part, I would something our founding fathers would support and likely assumed would be the way we lived on after they passed.

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