Seattle - one of the First American Cities to Buy Police Department Surveillance Drones
SPD Drone Acquisition Began in 2009
Three years after the Seattle Police Department began their search to obtain an unmanned surveillance vehicle - a Drone - I attended their Community Meeting to introduce the unit to the public.
The room was overfilled and the crowd had something to say. The huge majority of speakers challenged the very idea of SPD using drones to overfly neighborhood, for any purpose.
Attendees filmed the event from every angle, while assorted television cameras rolled and print media interviewed and took notes. As you will see from the videos, animated protesters linked drone usage with overseas military actions and questioned the equity of employing UAVs in neighborhoods populated by persons of color, a segment already overrepresented in our jails and prisons.
To this animated audience, SPD introduced their first done to the general public in a community meeting in Seattle's Central District. For the span of the meeting the UAV sat on a cart, protected by several police officers, behind a row of tables.
A certified pilot officer of manned aircraft as well as drones started up the drone's motor. He held the control joystick in one hand, while the wing lights blinked, and he grasped the unit with his other hand.
This is a done deal, as far as city residents are concerned. The city has already invested money into the vehicle. The unit has been flight tested in three locations in Seattle City Parks and in a rural setting on the peninsula.
image credit: my photo
Seattle's Draganflyer Drone or USV
2/7/13 Mayor Nixes Drone Program
Mayor McGinn Says No More Drones
Seattleites Succeed in Banning Police Drones
I found this meeting unsettling because the police were telling us what they had already done. They weren't asking for our opinions on something they were considering. It felt like they were proud of their new device, which definitely looks like a toy, and they were chomping at the bit to get it into daily use.
SPD Draft for Use of Unmanned Aerial Systems
procedures to initiate UAS Action
Use of UAS Limited to Specific Circumstances
...UAS will only be used to gain an aerial perspective consistent with the open view doctrine.
...UAS may only be used to provide investigative support in the following circumstances:
.criminal investigations, missing persons, hot pursuit of subjects, barricaded subjects, mutual aid for public safety missions, and specific situations with the Assistant Chief of the Special Operations Bureau direct authorization
Homeland Security Section (HSS) has Operational Control and their Field Supervisor Screens Deployment
Deployment will be made consistent with the current Seattle Police Department Unmanned Aerial System Operations Manual.
Only Trained Officers will Operate drones, with flight logs kept at HSS
See Operations Manual 6.255 - PRO-1 (UAS Call-Out):
Action taken by:
Officer.................... 1. Recognizes the need for UAS deployment
.................................2. contacts a supervisor
..................................... 2a. Explains why a UAS is needed
Supervisor.............3. Determines if the situation meets the criteria for UAS deployment
..................................... 3a. If it does, advises communications to contact a UAS supervisor
Communications: 4. Contacts a UAS supervisor
..................................... 4a. Explains the situation
Seattle Police Drone Unveiling
SPD Introduces Drone at Community Meeting 10.25.12 - in the Central District Garfield Community Center
Assistant Chief Pat Mc Donaugh
Technology for Remaining Aloft Exists - video game thrills
The Seattle Police Department introduces their drone to the public, with the caveat that - the drone only has the capability of flying for ten minutes. This is a smokescreen, however true today, because we clearly have the technology to use drones that can fly 24 hours per day, as this video demonstrates.
This video has all the excitement of a video game. Quick action, spying, super sophisticated control stations, voyeuristic aspect, control life and death, carrying and discharging arms, laser guided, sensor controlled, trigger action,
Predator drones are presented as Support Vehicles that Protect our Troops.
Local police drones are presented as Support Vehicles that Protect our Police Forces, when engaged by law enforcement.
If you live in a high crime neighborhood, police drones can fly outside your 10th floor apartment, and record inside your home through your windows. They need only be armed with a camera.
Aside from the issue surrounding military use of drones, do we want to give up our assumed Right to Privacy in our own homes?
Seattle's Shadowhawk UAV
Video display of SPD's new drone, flying outside. Watch
Recommendations for Government Drones
ACLU Report: "Protecting Privacy From Aerial Surveillance: Recommendations for Government Use of Drone Aircraft"
The public is already aware of many of the uses for Predator Drones, but hardly cognizant of the fact that their very own cities may already have the unmanned aerial vehicles in operation, or in the planning stages.
In conjunction with the Homeland Security Department, local jurisdictions may be training to fly the units. Like North Dakota, they may have actually used a full-sized armed Predator Drone to apprehend a suspect.
The American Civil Liberties Union is active in presenting the case for preserving our freedoms and our rights. Read their December 15, 2011 Report.
First Case of Predator Drone Use in the US
- CBS News Story
Overview of actual use of drones, in Lakota, North Dakota, and arguments for and against. In a dispute over cattle a Predator Drone was used to arrest an individual.
Full Sized Military Drone
Your Opinion Please - anyone may comment
What is your position on the use of drones in your neighborhood?
They seem like a reasonable crime fighting tool.
What Are Our Rights to Privacy When Drones Fly Overhead?
A House of Representatives Field Forum at Rice University explores the rights, under the Fourth Amendment.
Because of the huge cost of helicopters and other aircraft, US governmental agencies are limited in how much they can invade our privacy, in the skies over our heads.
With the development of new very small drones, the technology spurs innovative industries whose mission is to sell their new tiny drones. Who better to sell them to than law enforcement agencies of the mom and pop kind - local police and sheriff departments.
The law enforcement agencies are more than eager to get their hands on these video game-like tools. The UAVs are touted for their humanitarian uses, such as finding lost persons and helping with natural disasters.
The ACLU lawyer, Chris Calabrese, testified on behalf of safeguarding individual liberties. Testimony and Hearing Video
History of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
- History of UAVs
Wiki article covers history of tavs
- Boeing's UAV History
Overview of Boeing's involvement in unmanned aerial vehicle development.
Company website lauds its accomplishments and explains and displays vehicles.
- UAV Economics & Regulatory Policy
Presentation from Tad Mc Geer, Aerovel Corporation, in Washington State.
Texas Law Enforcement Excited About UAVs
Insitu, the business that makes drones in Washington State, started in 1994, making tools for weather surveillance.
After the frights of 9/11 and the media scare-factories, the founders, Tad McGeer and Andy von Flotow, realized they were in on the ground floor of what could be a valuable new use for their units.
In Houston, where they spent $300,000 on a 50# Shadowhawk, designed to be weaponized, residents raised alarm when they saw the UAV flying over their neighborhoods.
Montgomery County Sheriff, Tommy Gage, says it's pretty exciting for them to be in on the ground floor of American city drone use. Montgomery County launched it's first drones in 2007, a larger more threatening appearing style, that was discontinued due to citizen complaints.
“They're at the top of their game in terms of their niche and trying to make decisions that will keep them ahead of the curve”
Lindsay Voss, a defense industry analyst with consulting firm Frost and Sullivan in San Antonio, Texas, said Insitu's development of a weather-tracking drone put it at the front of its manufacturing sector when the Department of Defense needed new tools to fight terrorism.
The Blaze elaborates on the Texas Shadowhawk Drone. Sharp photographs and videos tell the story.
Unmanned Drones Launched in Houston
Sites of Present and Future American Drones - the drone war is no longer only far-away --- it's right around the corner from home
64 Drone bases existed on June 13, 2012, on United States land, according to a story by Lorenzo Franceschi-BicchieraiEmail, on wired.com.
12 of those locations bear actual Predator Drones, the kind that can bear armaments.
Police departments, universities, and other agencies have stealthily introduced these drones into our lives, under cover as upgrading their technology, safeguarding the police, and increasing surveillance possibilities to fight crime. Read the Article
map: Drone Map
drone photo below: Shadow Drone
The Shadow Predator Drone
Should Drones Spy on Americans?
Posters for Peace & Justice Wall Calendar
Posters for peace and justice are featured in this graphic calendar.
DHS to Double Use of Predator Drones Used in America
Armed Drones in the United States
Are you concerned about the video game aspect of drone use in the U.S.?