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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 hedwards ( 940851 ) on Saturday October 29, 2011 @09:24AM (#37878146)

    You have a state that doesn't seem to mind executing people that might be innocent and where there's little concern for courts convicting innocent people in general.

    Yeah, those are the people that I'd want to be operating armed drones over my house. Thankfully, I live way away from, Texas, but this ought to scare the crap out of anybody who lives there. 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>

  • by intellitech ( 1912116 ) * on Saturday October 29, 2011 @09:31AM (#37878196)

    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."

    What the hell does law enforcement need a 37mm/40mm grenade launcher attached to a remote-controlled UAV for? Whatever, moving on.

    Between the political disarray of congress, the chain of administrations that spend exorbitant amounts of money on things the people don't really need, the majority of police officers who are little more than petty thugs/tools, TSA groping children in airports and performing unwarranted, "random" searches on the street, media hype/sensationalism which constantly keeps the dumb majority of the public distracted, the incredibly skewed distribution of wealth, and an overall government with a cracked model of democracy that has it's hands in way too many cookie jars, I can't say I want to live in this country any longer. It's turning into a police state, and people should not have to fear the peace keepers, law makers, or individuals which hold powerful, public offices.

    All in all, everything happening now is a perfect recipe for chaos, and I doubt anybody will realize it until it's too late.

    P.S. I like the police. They keep the peace, and living in a large city, I am grateful for that. But the majority of police officers do not deserve the title - they are frequently loose cannons, act only on instinct or emotion, pick/choose what laws they enforce when they want to enforce them, and frequently ignore laws / people's rights just to further their own agenda, career, or case. I'm friends with a few cops (detectives, actually), and some of them are good guys who I can personally say have never violated anybody's rights, but, unfortunately, they are few and far between. I'd be fairly surprised if the "good cops" make up more than 20% of the force at any given precinct across the country.

    P.S.S. "Chaos. Good news."

  • by ZankerH ( 1401751 ) on Saturday October 29, 2011 @09:57AM (#37878354)

    Are we past our prime?

    Definitely. Depends on who you ask, but most historians agree the USA was at its prime either during the interbellum, or the WWII - late 1950's period.

  • Urban unrest (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 29, 2011 @10:05AM (#37878384)

    This is not designed for regular policing, and would have little if any use in day to day operations. Helicopters are used for large sporting events to coordinate resources on the ground with the aerial view giving a big picture. But TFA does not even try to use this justification. The words used are 'hunting criminals', and ` SWAT team officers are facing an active shooter`

    I've never been to the states so I do not know how frequent these events are, but imagine not frequent enough to justify this type of acquisition.

    So where could a tool like this become useful?

    The first major deployment of aircraft for population control was the Indian subcontinent. Around 1915-1922ish, aircraft were deployed and used to quell urban unrest. With relatively few servicemen able to command vast areas. The subcontinent included India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

    More recently, the UAV has been used to spy-on and assassinate potential adversaries in the middle east, covering vast areas and again utilizing minimal personnel. Assassination seems to be preferred over capture and rendition as captives eventually talk.

    Is the US expecting large-scale social unrest?

    If the answer is yes, it seems the government have chosen their defense strategy. If not, well, once police forces acquire a tool they tend to use them, and don't like to give them back. Both scenarios are worrying.

    As an outsider looking in, I see the US as going through a metamorphosis similar to that of Germany in the 1920s. The TSA could be compared to the early days of the Sturmabteilung (SA, or stormtroopers.) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sturmabteilung

    I hope I am wrong.

  • Re:America (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 0111 1110 ( 518466 ) on Saturday October 29, 2011 @10:46AM (#37878724)

    but the cops don't hassle me or steal or rob in my neighborhood.

    As someone who was recently beaten up by a cop in a relatively wealthy suburb and then falsely charged with enough stuff to put me in prison (the real America) for a couple of years if the jury believes his lies, it is hard for me to sympathize. American cops are evil thugs. Period. I have lived in a number of third world countries and none of them had cops like we have. In most third world countries 'corrupt' means asking for and accepting small bribes. In the US it means sadistically beating innocent people for the fun of it and then trying their best to put them in prison for getting beat up (cover charges). And there is no oversight. The police police themselves here.

  • by MagusSlurpy ( 592575 ) on Saturday October 29, 2011 @05:53PM (#37881976) Homepage

    There is only one way to punish a cop in the US where the courts don't punish them. You have to kill them.

    That's BS. They can lose vacation time! [npr.org]

  • by HiThere ( 15173 ) <{ten.knilhtrae} {ta} {nsxihselrahc}> on Saturday October 29, 2011 @06:10PM (#37882076)

    It's not that the majority of the police are "loose cannons". Most of them aren't. But they won't discipline those who are, either. And one person doing harm can do a lot more harm that a dozen people doing good will counterbalance.

    They are, often, accessories after the fact. This isn't equally culpable as accessory before the fact, but it sure isn't innocent, either.

Were there fewer fools, knaves would starve. - Anonymous