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Weaponizable Police UAV Now Operational In Texas 416

crackspackle writes "The Montgomery County Sheriff's Office in suburban Houston, Texas is preparing to launch operations with a newly received Shadowhawk MK-III unmanned aerial vehicle, paid for by grant money received by the Department of Homeland Security. The MK-III is a product marketed for both military and law enforcement applications. Michael Buscher, chief executive officer of manufacturer Vanguard Defense Industries, said this is the first local law enforcement agency to buy one of his units. 'The aircraft has the capability to have a number of different systems on board. Mostly, for law enforcement, we focus on what we call less lethal systems,' he said, including Tazers that can send a jolt to a criminal on the ground or a gun that fires bean bags known as a 'stun baton.' 'You have a stun baton where you can actually engage somebody at altitude with the aircraft. A stun baton would essentially disable a suspect,' he said. The MK-III also has more lethal options available, capable of carrying either a 40mm or 37mm grenade launcher or 12 gauge shotgun with laser designator."
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Weaponizable Police UAV Now Operational In Texas

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  • by rotide ( 1015173 ) on Saturday October 29, 2011 @09:37AM (#37878228)

    Really is amazing to watch just how far and wide the military/state is invading citizens lives.

    I know there is a happy medium between no security and full blown police state, but I'm sure we passed that line and we're accelerating towards the latter. I also know that _every_ great nation has fallen. Maybe they don't totally die, get conquered, etc, but they certainly become shadows of their former selves. Are we on the slide down now? Are we past our prime? Can we recover? I understand that anything is possible, but does it look likely or even plausible given our political climate in the US? What would it take to make things "right" again (yes, I know there are multiple views of what this means)?

    Am I just rambling and making no sense after just waking up on a Saturday?

  • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 ) on Saturday October 29, 2011 @09:45AM (#37878270)

    Precisely what happens when this thing hits somebody that isn't the intended target? Or how about collateral damage? I don't think that police forces typically arm themselves with grenade launchers in the US>

    I would expect that that the same rules that govern when the police can pull and fire his weapon would apply here. Also, there's a risk of collateral damage whenever police get in a shootout with a suspect. As in, there are a number of steps a cop must go through in ID'ing the suspect and confirming they have a weapon. And, if they don't, they are usually officially reprimanded, if not prosecuted. Contrary to popular opinion here, the percentage of cops that are corrupt or abuse their power is a very small percentage of the total police force in the US. And, including them, the number of police who actually want to shoot someone is even less.

    And actually, police forces in the US have been using grenade launcher-type weapons since the 20s or 30s to deploy tear gas. They have simple 1 shot break action type launchers akin to the M79 from Vietnam, and also multi-round, revolver type ones similar to the MM-1. And it's not just US police that use them, most modern police forces have equipment of this type. Also, many of the multi-round revolver launchers come with bean-bag rounds as well as the standard CS rounds.

  • by khallow ( 566160 ) on Saturday October 29, 2011 @09:48AM (#37878288)
    "Weaponizable" just means that you can add a weapon, not that the vehicle has one. Police departments already have plenty of "weaponizable" things, you can add rocket launchers to patrol cars or give a nuclear bomb to a patrol officer. (Yes, that's right, a patrol officer can destroy an entire city! You heard it here first!)

    FWIW, the police department has described uses that don't use weapons (various recon/patrol functions), while the CEO of the business pumped the weaponization capabilities. Could a future police department have a fleet of armed UAVs? Absolutely. But that hasn't happened yet.
  • by Dripdry ( 1062282 ) on Saturday October 29, 2011 @10:39AM (#37878650) Journal

    Wait... wait...
    did you just say what I think you said? I want to be sure you meant that, but "There's no reason not to KILL (my emphasis) a fleeing robber if he has no hostages"

    Um, maybe you're trolling, but your comment strikes me as exactly what is wrong with some scary mentality that's springing up around our nation: Guilty until proven innocent!
    And by the way, slashdotters, this is human behavior at work, so let's not villify too much, let's be pragmatic: People hold their own ideas and perception in higher regard than is typically warranted by facts. This is why courts are in place, to ensure that no one person makes a decision of life and death.

    On another note, the idea that killing someone because they robbed a place/person seems abominable IMHO. You'd take their most precious gift just because they took someone's money and/or assaulted them? Granted, they deserve punishment, but you are WAY beyond the pale here, buddy.

    I sure hope you're not a cop, if you were I'd report you to the higher-ups I know to do my part in ensuring you either a) get help or b) don't work in a police force anywhere I can help it.

  • Re:America (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Immostlyharmless ( 1311531 ) on Saturday October 29, 2011 @10:41AM (#37878672)
    "In my neighborhood"

    So you're well off and Caucasian? Must be, cause trust me they enjoy fucking with the rest of us.....
  • by 0111 1110 ( 518466 ) on Saturday October 29, 2011 @11:42AM (#37879212)

    Someone who shoots a thief is a murderer. Someone who robs is just a thief. So who is the bad guy? There are countries where shooting a fleeing thief (or presumed thief) will get you tried for murder. I like those countries. It's just common sense that murder is worse than theft and that one does not justify the other. If someone points a gun at you then you are free to shoot them on the assumption that they are about to shoot you. But shooting a running person in the back? That's murder. Plain and simple.

  • by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Saturday October 29, 2011 @12:53PM (#37879808) Journal

    Contrary to popular opinion here, the percentage of cops that are corrupt or abuse their power is a very small percentage of the total police force in the US.

    I'd say that any cop who knows about corruption or abuse is equally culpable.
    When the people tasked with upholding our laws are covering for each other,
    it significantly increases that percentage from "very small" to "what the fuck is wrong with our law enforcement officers"

  • by ToadProphet ( 1148333 ) on Saturday October 29, 2011 @01:28PM (#37880070)

    So where's the line? If someone drives recklessly should they be blow to smithereens? Driving slightly over the limit? Speeding?

    If putting the lives of others at risks justifies summary execution the world will get a whole lot emptier real soon.

The optimum committee has no members. -- Norman Augustine