A Houston-area sheriff's office is now the proud owner of an aerial drone, paid for—of course—with $300,000 in federal homeland security grant money.
And by homeland security, they mean "hunting criminals who are running from police," "assessing a scene where SWAT team officers are facing an active shooter," and "criminal investigations such as drug shipments."
The drone is not currently armed—and the sheriff's office has "no immediate plans" to upgrade—but the manufacturer says the mini-helicopter is designed to be fitted out with weapons of several kinds, including Tazer guns and a bean bag "baton."
Don't worry about your civl liberties, though:
"We're not going to use it to be invading somebody's privacy. It'll be used for situations we have with criminals," [Sheriff Tommy] Gage said
According to promotional claims by manufacturer Vanguard Defense Industries, the ShadowHawk is the drone equivalent of those Medicare-funded motorized wheelchairs you see advertised on TV. ("You won't pay a dime!") Just as with this Texas sheriff's office, a little finagling will pull in a federal grant to cover the whole cost—a process Vanguard is happy to help with.
One last quote about the new "security asset":
Chief Deputy Randy McDaniel said, "I'm tickled to death" about using the drone.
It's funny, see, because death.
Via Radley Balko.