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Predator Drone Helps Nab Cattle Rustlers 214

riverat1 writes "KTLA reports police in North Dakota arrested three men accused of cattle rustling with the help of a Predator B drone from nearby Grand Forks AFB. The sheriff of Nelson Country was chased off by three armed men when he went to serve a warrant, so he came back the next morning with reinforcements, including the drone, which, while circling 2 miles overhead, was able to determine the whereabouts of the men on their 3,000 acre spread and the fact that they were unarmed. A SWAT team quickly moved in and apprehended the men. Local police say they have used the Predator drones for at least two dozen surveillance flights since June. The FBI and DEA have used the drones for domestic investigations as well."
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Predator Drone Helps Nab Cattle Rustlers

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  • Re:Not military (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nadaka ( 224565 ) on Monday December 12, 2011 @06:17PM (#38348402)

    And that is supposed to make us feel better? CBP and Homeland Security are some of the worst domestic rights offenders out there.

  • Re:Not military (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Synerg1y ( 2169962 ) on Monday December 12, 2011 @06:17PM (#38348410)

    And promptly turned the technology against the American public with tears of joy in their beady little eyes.

  • Re:Not military (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GameboyRMH ( 1153867 ) <gameboyrmh@gma i l .com> on Monday December 12, 2011 @06:17PM (#38348412) Journal

    Relax guys, this isn't the military piloting this drone, it's the DHS!

  • I'll take some cattle rustlers over militarized police chasing cattle rustlers any day, thanks. Much like the cure/disease metaphor, not every policing measure targeting every crime improves society, even if successful...

  • Re:Not military (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jeremiah Cornelius ( 137 ) on Monday December 12, 2011 @06:28PM (#38348590) Homepage Journal

    That you consider the situation "Pretty normal"?

    The frog is already half-boiled.

  • Re:Not military (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Monday December 12, 2011 @06:30PM (#38348622)

    The issue is that ICE isn't responsible for cattle rustling and using them in this fashion that far from the border represents significant mission creep. If they found them while doing routine surveillance of the borer or near the border that would be one thing, but Grand Forks is quite far from the border with Canada and this isn't really something which the ICE has any right to intervene on.

  • Re:Not military (Score:5, Insightful)

    by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Monday December 12, 2011 @06:35PM (#38348692)
    However, this was NOT a case of the predator just flying around on a fishing expedition. The predator didn't come into play until after the police had been chased off by armed men while executing a warrant. So the real issue here wasn't cattle rustling, but rather apprehending known "presumed armed & dangerous" fugitives.
  • Re:Not military (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Baloroth ( 2370816 ) on Monday December 12, 2011 @06:35PM (#38348700)
    Yes, it is supposed to make you feel better. The US military is forbidden from acting on US soil, and had it been owned by them, this would have been clearly illegal and a violation of US law. As it is, the drone was used after armed men chased a sheriff who was serving a legally-issue warrant away. Violation of rights: hells no, not in THIS case (they could have used a helo to do the same thing. Only reason this is a story is "oh noes, the drones!"). Could it become one? Sure.
  • by ErikZ ( 55491 ) * on Monday December 12, 2011 @06:51PM (#38348940)

    Dude, the tent is full of fucking camels already.

  • Re:SWAT? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Trepidity ( 597 ) <> on Monday December 12, 2011 @06:52PM (#38348942)

    The other reason is that there are a lot more SWAT teams than they used to be, so the threshold for calling them out is a lot lower. Gotta justify that taxpayer money spent on fancy equipment somehow...

  • by BBTaeKwonDo ( 1540945 ) on Monday December 12, 2011 @06:58PM (#38349078)
    Once you chase off a sheriff with weapons, your claim to use of excessive police force goes out the window, in my book. Further, the drone technology may have limitations that prevent it from being able to determine whether the suspects were truly unarmed. If you have 3 guys walking around a field, a drone can probably tell that they don't have long guns on them, but I highly doubt that the scan (thermal mode or visual) can detect sidearms. If I were a sheriff, I certainly wouldn't bet my life on that technology.
  • by Jeremiah Cornelius ( 137 ) on Monday December 12, 2011 @07:27PM (#38349520) Homepage Journal

    "The average professional in this country wakes up in the morning, goes to work, comes home, eats dinner, and then goes to sleep, unaware that he or she has likely committed several federal crimes that day. Why? The answer lies in the very nature of modern federal criminal laws, which have exploded in number but also become impossibly broad and vague. In Three Felonies a Day, Harvey A. Silverglate reveals how federal criminal laws have become dangerously disconnected from the English common law tradition and how prosecutors can pin arguable federal crimes on any one of us, for even the most seemingly innocuous behavior." []

  • by Oligonicella ( 659917 ) on Monday December 12, 2011 @08:07PM (#38349992)
    The tech is not infallible. They appeared unarmed would be more accurate.
  • by EdZ ( 755139 ) on Monday December 12, 2011 @08:24PM (#38350184)
    I do feel that the whole "police UAVs = 1984" thing is slightly odd, given that all a UAV is in this role is a cheaper police helicopter. Unless your objection is specifically against all cameras between altitudes of 1.6m and 100km, I don't see much difference between the platform being manned or unmanned.
  • Re:Not military (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 12, 2011 @08:29PM (#38350226)

    Posse comitatus act of 1878 prohibits the use of Army (and by extention Air Force) assets for use in civil law enforcement, except under authority of the Constitution or Act of Congress. The protections of the Posse Comitatus have been extended to the Marine Corps and Navy by Executive Order, but do not apply to National Guard troops in Title 32 status (not federalized) or Coast Guard generally. It also has specific exemptions carved out for drug enforcement and troops used pursuant to the insurrection act and particular threats to nuclear security.

  • by DaleSwanson ( 910098 ) on Monday December 12, 2011 @09:24PM (#38350664)

    I do feel that the whole "police UAVs = 1984" thing is slightly odd, given that all a UAV is in this role is a cheaper police helicopter. Unless your objection is specifically against all cameras between altitudes of 1.6m and 100km, I don't see much difference between the platform being manned or unmanned.

    It's the same thing as a GPS tracker on a car vs a full surveillance team. In both cases the problem is that the new tech is much cheaper. Because it is cheaper it will be used much more frequently and by many more agencies. My local police department can't afford their own helicopter, but 10 years from now I wouldn't be surprised if they have a drone.

    It boils down to the previous expense made it much less common, and traceable. You probably couldn't use a police helicopter to follow some guy who made your shitlist 24/7, but drones will soon make that sort of thing inevitable. At least when this stuff was less common abuses were also less common; when it was more expensive, accountability was also higher.

  • by wisnoskij ( 1206448 ) on Monday December 12, 2011 @09:55PM (#38350896) Homepage

    Because the government was never meant to have near omnipotent power over its citizens, which is where we are headed.
    Originally, citizens were allowed guns to protect them from the military (and conceivably the police).
    But now technology and tactics have advanced to where you cannot protect yourself from the government at all.

    Sure crime, murder, and disorder are bad. But I don't want to live in a country where absolutely none of those exist because the government has absolute control of everything. The government does not even have to abuse this power (simply for that amount of power to exist is an abuse of power) for it to be a dystopia.

    It helps to keep the government honest and just to know that really to control the country you need at least 50% of the citizens behind you. But with all the weapons, tech, and know how we have today the government could enforce anything on the people with only a comparative handful of people working with them.

  • by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @04:46AM (#38352990)
    Here is the problem that I haven't seen anyone else mention yet:

    The problem is that it is military personnel and equipment that are helping local law enforcement. If law enforcement wants to get their own drones, that's a different matter. But the military has absolutely no place getting involved in civilian law enforcement affairs, even to offer "innocent" help.

    If there was ever something that could be called a genuine slippery slope, this is it.

10.0 times 0.1 is hardly ever 1.0.