In North Dakota, a judge has refused to toss out a case where a farmer says he was arrested as a result of information supplied by a drone.
The drone was supplied to local authorities by the Department of Homeland Security.
It seems that some cows had wandered onto the man’s property. He refused to return them.
These were terrorist cows. The nation’s security was at stake. So, the DHS took decisive action.
The drone — called a UAV — was used for surveillance. The local SWAT team wanted to know where the farmer was at all times.
The drone had nothing to do with the cows, the police now say.
Then why did the DHS lend the police the drone?
The police had thought through this matter. So, they arrested him for terrorizing. Also criminal mischief. That was why they tasered him.
The farmer’s lawyer says that the authorities used the drone rather than get a warrant issued by a judge.
The prosecution, however, argued that the drone was used only after arrest warrants had been issued, and that they were not used to gather evidence, but only to ensure the safety of the SWAT team that was about to raid the farm.
“Unmanned surveillance aircraft were not in use prior to or at the time Rodney Brossart is alleged to have committed the crimes with which he is charged,” State prosecutor Douglas Manbeck wrote.
Then why was it used at all? What stake did the DHS have in all this?
A draft bill has been introduced by a House member to prohibit the use of drones without authorization with a warrant. Problem: What Constitutional authority does Congress have over local law enforcement? Technically, Congress has control over the DHS. Technically, it has authority over the Federal Reserve, too.
Congress has asked the Federal Aviation Authority to draw up rules to integrate drone use into the domestic airspace by 2015. The agency is set to start issuing licenses for police and emergency services drones this month. It has already authorized the use of pilotless Predator drones in the airspace above nearly 10,000 acres in North Dakota.
The US Army is also hoping to station drones on military bases throughout the nation after obtaining certification from the FAA.
The problem with unmanned drones is that the pilots have no skin in the game. This kind of incident takes place.
In Texas, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office obtained a pilotless Shadowhawk helicopter in hopes of eventually equipping it with weapons such as flares, smoke grenades, tasers and rubber bullets that could be used to subdue a crowd. However, that UAV crashed into a SWAT van during a photo op, raising the important issue of safety in a crowded urban environment.
What’s a police department to do?