Your tax dollars at work: Texas police have $300k drone helicopter

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Now tell me that this is a wise, prudent, necessary or productive use of tax dollars...
No wonder you're going bankrupt as a country. One city at a time, one bank at a time, one family at a time.
================================== http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/11/16/drone-gives-texas-law-enforcement-birds-eye-view-on-crime /
Drone Gives Texas Law Enforcement Bird's-Eye View on Crime
The Montgomery County Sheriffs Office is weeks away from launching an unmanned aerial asset to help deputies fight crime. The ShadowHawk helicopter is six-feet long, weighs fifty pounds and fits in the back of an SUV.
http://a57.foxnews.com/video.foxnews.com/thumbnails/111611/640/360/640/360/111611_gutierrez_drone2_640.jpg
We can put it over a fire, put it over a hazmat spill, put it over a house with a suspect barricaded inside and literally give the incident commander the ability to look at the entire scene with a birds eye view, Chief Deputy Randy McDaniel said.
Sheriffs deputies will fly the ShadowHawk with nothing more than a laptop computer and a remote control similar to that used for video games.
Its equipped with an infrared camera that can clearly read a license plate from an elevation of twelve hundred feet. The helicopter cost upwards of $300,000 and was purchased with a grant from the federal government.
Vanguard Defense Industries built the helicopter. The company has also supplied aerial assets to US forces over seas.
Critics argue the drone-like vehicle isnt safe, because its unmanned.
I gotta tell you, it sort of looks like boys and their toys, said Terri Burke, Executive Director of the ACLU of Texas. Were giving up our privacy, were letting the government have way too much power.
The ACLU is concerned that technology used by law enforcement officials in general is getting ahead of peoples privacy. No one has complained to the ACLU about the Montgomery County helicopter, but some fear it could be used to spy on people.
The Constitution spells out very clearly that we have a right to privacy, Burke said.
This sheriffs office has better things to do with its time then spy on people, McDaniel argued. "Thats not our mission. The only way that its going to be an invasion of their privacy is if they are committing some type of a criminal act where we might utilize this to catch them.
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Yup, law enforcement is big business here and is basically catch-and-release operation. The police catch the criminals and the cry-baby juries find them innocent and release them. And as you've pointed out, we spend an obscene amount of money along the way.
What the world needs is a 100% foolproof lie detector and a rapid-reset guillotine.
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John Wayne wrote:

the criminal justice system is alive and well, it's a contest among taxes, health care, and the legal system on who gets ur money before the final trip out of this world. 95% of those charged with a crime plea guilty or no contest only the really guilty and really innocent risk going to trial. http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/glance/corr2.cfm
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harry wrote:

The U.S. already waterboards hundreds of its citizens every year, most of whom have never committed a crime.
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People even volunteer for it.
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But did you like it?
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What's needed is a helicopter, drone or regular that has armaments that can return fire from the druggies south of the borders. I see Texas Dope Wars and Border Patrol, and our agents take all kinds of incoming fire. Send a couple of hellfires or even some small ten pounders back in response, and I guarantee you things would quieten down overnight. I hear there's 30,000 shoulder mounted wire guided missiles floating around in the middle east. Kind of ironic that we have to go buy back our own stuff, but I think this would be worth it. It would sure shorten those high speed chases where the bad guys take out a carload of nuns and orphans.
Or invent some new handcuffs that let our agents fight with their hands IN FRONT OF THEM.
Steve
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Nah, Obama is making it a fair fight by arming *THEM*.
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On Fri, 18 Nov 2011 07:27:01 -0500, "Stormin Mormon"

It's hard to be effective when you don't try.

See paragraph #1.
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On 11/17/2011 5:33 AM, HeyBub wrote:

Snow boarding is even worse. I hear it can be very violent. ^_^
TDD
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Home Guy wrote:

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/11/16/drone-gives-texas-law-enforcement-birds-eye-view-on-crime /
http://a57.foxnews.com/video.foxnews.com/thumbnails/111611/640/360/640/360/111611_gutierrez_drone2_640.jpg
Cheaper than operating a full size helicopter, and give the prevalence of wildfires, I expect it will earn it's keep.
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I wonder if it's equipped with any weapons? maybe mini-Spike? a 40mm grenade launcher? tear gas dispenser?

I note the US military had to take some special measures to be allowed to fly their drones in US airspace. I doubt this low-cost drone has those special measures. It could collide with a general aviation aircraft,or hit power lines. Situational awareness is lacking with these unmanned AC. A human pilot onboard is constantly scanning all around the AC.

the helo is not going to be doing anything different than a manned police helicopter.
I just hope it won't be used for flying speed traps to help pay for itself.

Wait until some kid with a RC model airplane comes along and shoots it down.
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Jim Yanik
jyanik
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Jim Yanik wrote:

I doubt it, I don't think it has the weight capacity for that. The cameras and whatnot probably eat up most of it's weigh rating.

This is not a high altitude aircraft, the only place it would present any risk to general aviation aircraft would be if used in close proximity to an airport.

Bingo, same role (or a bit less) but with much lower operating costs.

Eh, they have occasionally used aircraft for that for decades and mostly moved away from that (other than warning signage on roads) due to the expense and hassles.

If I recall, a few years back a full size police helicopter was shot down in Arizona.
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On 11/17/2011 9:19 AM, Pete C. wrote:

no, there was a collision between 2 copters both trying to cover the latest car chase, because they weren't watching where they were going (the pilot is also the cameraman).
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chaniarts wrote:

Probably a different incident. The one I recall was definitely reported as a shoot down and there was only one heli involved.
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On 11/17/2011 1:47 PM, Pete C. wrote:

cite please.
i live in phx. there has not been a shootdown of a helicopter here.
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Robert Green wrote:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/33358527/ns/world_news-americas/t/gangs-shoot-down-brazil-police-chopper-dead /
Could have been New Mexico, though I thought it was Arizona. I don't recall other than it was west of TX and a border state. Probably shot down by a drug gang.
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People already fly "UAVs" recreationally, without license. What's so different about LEOs?

Except it doesn't.

Since there are far cheaper means for this, I would expect "speed traps" would be a very low priority.

The question is "why a helicopter"? Helicopters are more complicated, difficult to fly, and suffer more mechanical problems. Why not fixed-wing, or of loitering is a requirement, a blimp/Zeppelin?

RC dogfights! Neat.
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wrote:

Maybe not, but aiui, they can carry a gerbil with hand grenades.
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Seems a ton cheaper than a regular chopper. Nice for intensive surveillance of high crime areas, overhead coverage during SWAT call outs, good for looking for lost kids in wooded areas or nefarious individuals on the run, traffic tie-ups, etc. You might want to impart to the ACLU Dude that he is wrong. " The Constitution spells out very clearly that we have a right to privacy, Burke said." Even in Griswold decision, the Court ruled that the right of privacy wasn't in the wording but in the penumbra of other rights.
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People thought cybersex was a safe alternative,
until patients started presenting with sexually
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