Monday, March 25, 2013

Arlington PD embraces drones, gets FAA clearance - what limits will the Lege impose?

The Arlington PD's recent FAA licensure of a pair of unmanned drones coupled with Rep. Lance Gooden's HB 912 regulating drone photography coming up on the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee agenda on Tuesday has resulted in a spate of recent news coverage on the topic of unmanned surveillance drones, see:
Notably the makers of police drones are openly worried that the first person to shoot one down will be considered a "hero" and, said US News and World Report, "According to a Reason/Rupe poll conducted last month, nearly half of Americans believe that they have the 'right to destroy' a drone that flies too close to their house. Nearly two thirds of Americans said they'd be worried about local police drones invading their privacy." The over-the-top public reaction to drones makes me think the time is ripe for legislation to regulate them. But the bill as filed was too sweeping, potentially impacting even university researchers, hobbyists, and other legitimate users.

Since the FAA won't be licensing private drones until September 2015, I'd prefer to see the focus for now remain on a warrant requirement for police surveillance and curtailing their regulatory use by government. By 2015, the issues surrounding private use of drones will be in sharper focus, the issue will be more ripe for legislation, and there is still time to enact it before the FAA approves private use use of drones in their airspace the following September. Today, in 2013, the goal should be to limit their use by state and local government which, as in Arlington, is the main consumer at the moment of privacy invading drone technology. Here's a picture via NBC of the Montgomery County Sheriff's SWAT team posing with their drone:

Last year the Montgomery Sheriff's drone program made headlines when they crashed their drone into a SWAT truck during a practice run.


Anonymous said...

Sorry but you don't have any expectation of privacy once you go out in public.

Scott Should know know that.


Anonymous said...

But my backyard enclosed with a privacy fence is not public.

Anonymous said...

How cool is that! Where do you get one and how much does it cost?

Anonymous said...

Word is Jerry Jones will be fronting the money for these purchases and will use them on Sunday for a closer look on the Cowboys opponents.

Anonymous said...

I work for a "felony only" fugitive unit for a state agency here in Texas...

I can see the benefit of using a drone in an apartment complex when we are trying to identify a fugitive who may not show his face if they believe the police or even strangers are around.

I can also see this being used by local police to monitor various areas where active criminal conflicts are taking place.

Both of these uses are dependent on how long this thing can stay up in the air.

The privacy concerns of home owners are valid and should be taken into consideration when we are talking about using drones that can see areas that are not open to the public.

I really don't have the answer here regarding privacy. It is an interesting technology that could make people safer in more dangerous areas in cities. Sometimes when a police officer drives through at the right time it can stall or even stop a fight or an all out gang on gang conflict.

I'm used to working in very dangerous and high crime areas. So maybe others have perspectives.

I would think that it would be better that drones be regulated by city ordinance (on whether or not they are allowed to be used). What works in Arlington may not work for Fort Worth and vice versa.

Anonymous said...

Never in law enforcement and its relationship with its citizenry has an issue arisen that is as significant as the "miranda" warning UNTIL now. Just look at the picture of the Conroe unit and its equipment. Are you telling me that police ought to look like that and have the capabilities they desperately want to police us. Wake up stupid!

DEWEY said...

When will "they" be arming the drones with missiles ????

Anonymous said...

I really don't have the answer here regarding privacy.

I do--favor less-intrusive methods over more intrusive ones, and don't trust the government.

What works in Arlington may not work for Fort Worth and vice versa.

The constitution is the same everywhere.

Anonymous said...

"But my backyard enclosed with a privacy fence is not public"

How tall is that fence? What about the tree next door or across that you can climb up and look into your yard, that's perfectly legal.

You'll love this one. What about the drone outside hovering around the sidewalk taking pictures inside your house? It's perfectly legal for a citizen to do to do that.

Anonymous said...

Photography –The crime of the century became a law enforcement tool. How did we get to this point? Who do we blame it on - the Taliban or the taxpayer? They say -If we are doing nothing wrong we have nothing to fear but bad cops, criminals and herpes.

While you think about it, here's something to reflect back on.
A homeowner aimed his camera in the direction of police beating the living shit out of a person that simply would not comply. What part about stay down isn't universal?


Resulting in police being camera shy to the point of arresting / beating anyone with one. (FWIW, there are U.S. citizens in jails / prison right now for filming police in public doing their duties’ & the taxpayers agreed to it.

Photography - the beta test

*Then the police decided to utilized cameras on the dashes of certain vehicles in order to capture their perspective of what’s what.

*Then someone made a deal with the police to use Stringers (cops with cameras) to film police on the job. The public caught on quickly and spotted the dash cams being pointed away from the action and editors cutting away from the obvious leaving in the footage of the ground.

*Then they put a few on the lapels of certain police uniforms making some police instant reality stars.

*Then someone put a camera on a toy airplane and sold it to the military.

*Then someone put a camera on a pole and charged folks for taking pics of their vehicles committing crimes.

*Then someone put a camera on a toy helo and by christmas they were flying everywhere within range.

*Then the police decided to put a camera on a bigger toy helo and floated it as a crime prevention / tool.

Anonymous said...

Photography - the magic trick

A camera has taken the attention away from the point. The militarization of Mayberry.
*Now Barney has a 30 round clip, a toy he can take anywhere he wants to and a hotline if he needs armored back up.

*A 12 year old with a sling shot / pellet gun will easily take the over priced toy out & someone will call it a felony.

*One will wipe out and the operator will shoot a pellet into the lenses and call it vandalism as he / she obtains another one from Supply.

*Certain police will decide to use them to check on the X, the current & the curious object two yards over.

*The public will use them to document / record public servants doing their duties’ in public but now safely from 60 feet (which should be enough to cover bad cops on 6th street).

*A bill will become a law that prevents the public from owning or attaching cameras onto objects.

*What are you in jail for? will be answered with - mixing toys & Photography.

*Camera-phones will have warning labels’ & disclaimers.

*Drug & Alcohol rehabs will have to make room for toy & photography enthusiasts’ being court ordered to get clean as a probation term.

*Window tint deemed too dark was outlawed on vehicles so it won't be long until it encompasses home windows and privacy fences will have to have holes every 10 yards as too many trees will become a no no. Mini blinds & Raybans are next on the banned list. Who do we blame it on - the Taliban or the taxpayer?

Michael said...

Model airplanes and helicopters have been around for decades. One can tape an iPhone to a model and thus they have a drone...assuming they can fly a model.

Police use real helicopters and airplanes all the time for surveillance and can fly over most anyone's property at anytime. Is there much of a difference between drones (models) and actual maned aircraft. Fly over my place, I don't care.

Anonymous said...

You don't care..I do.

Anonymous said...

Good to see they can't fly theirs any better than I can fly my toy. Oh course if I paid what they did I would have insisted on lessons.