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Monday, October 15, 2012

Alameda County Sheriff Just Might Employ Unmanned Drones to Catch Criminals

Posted By on Mon, Oct 15, 2012 at 8:45 AM

click to enlarge 800px_mq_9_reaper_in_flight_2007_.jpg

It's like something out of sci-fi: The bad guy, dressed in black, runs from police officers and manages to shimmy up a drainpipe and hide on a deserted roof. But then from behind him rises a small computerized helicopter that tracks his every move.

Well, for Bay Area folks, that scenario might not be fiction much longer.

Alameda County Sheriff Greg Ahern is considering the possibility of outfitting his office with the latest in unmanned drone technology, making it the first law enforcement agency in California to use this kind of technology.

They earned their stripes in combat, and now unmanned aerial drones are being used across the country to help law enforcement officers cut costs and still curb crime. The small, lightweight devices are being billed as a cheap alternative to helicopters.

With a 4-foot wing span, the 4-pound drone, armed with a live camera, can cost anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000, but can also give police officers a bird's eye view of the bad guys, as NBC notes.

The first arrest using drones happened in North Dakota, according to the LA Times, but so far, no California law enforcement agency has used them.

Not everyone is happy about the new development of this crime-fighting technology. Not surprisingly, the ACLU is especially upset about the drones, saying flying them over people's backyards could lead to an invasion of privacy.

After first trying a drone about a year ago, Ahern is looking into testing one during the upcoming "Urban Shield" exercise, which brings together 30 different law enforcement agencies, in a couple weeks.

What do you think, are drones creepy?

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