Predator Drones in Domestic Law Enforcement

Don't look up now, but....(from the Los Angeles Times)

Armed with a search warrant, Nelson County Sheriff Kelly Janke went looking for six missing cows on the Brossart family farm in the early evening of June 23. Three men brandishing rifles chased him off, he said.

Janke knew the gunmen could be anywhere on the 3,000-acre spread in eastern North Dakota. Fearful of an armed standoff, he called in reinforcements from the state Highway Patrol, a regional SWAT team, a bomb squad, ambulances and deputy sheriffs from three other counties.

He also called in a Predator B drone.

As the unmanned aircraft circled 2 miles overhead the next morning, sophisticated sensors under the nose helped pinpoint the three suspects and showed they were unarmed. Police rushed in and made the first known arrests of U.S. citizens with help from a Predator, the spy drone that has helped revolutionize modern warfare.

Would you be surprised to hear the folk collared were "right-wing extremists"? Don't be.

The first known use was June 23 after Janke drove up to the Brossart farm with a search warrant for cattle that supposedly had strayed from a neighboring ranch. The sheriff says he was ordered off the property at gunpoint.

The six adult Brossarts allegedly belonged to the Sovereign Citizen Movement, an antigovernment group that the FBI considers extremist and violent. The family had repeated run-ins with local police, including the arrest of two family members earlier that day arising from their clash with a deputy over the cattle.

Janke requested help from the drone unit, explaining that an armed standoff was underway. A Predator was flying back from a routine 10-hour patrol along the Canadian border from North Dakota to Montana. It carried extra fuel, so a pilot sitting in a trailer in Grand Forks turned the aircraft south to fly over the farm, about 60 miles from the border.

For four hours, the Predator circled 10,000 feet above the farm. Parked on a nearby road, Janke and the other officers watched live drone video and thermal images of Alex, Thomas and Jacob Brossart — and their mother, Susan — on a hand-held device with a 4-inch screen.

Only the guilty have reason to fear!

Proponents say the high-resolution cameras, heat sensors and sophisticated radar on the border protection drones can help track criminal activity in the United States, just as the CIA uses Predators and other drones to spy on militants in Pakistan, nuclear sites in Iran and other targets around the globe.

For decades, U.S. courts have allowed law enforcement to conduct aerial surveillance without a warrant. They have ruled that what a person does in the open, even behind a backyard fence, can be seen from a passing airplane and is not protected by privacy laws.

Advocates say Predators are simply more effective than other planes. Flying out of earshot and out of sight, a Predator B can watch a target for 20 hours nonstop, far longer than any police helicopter or manned aircraft.

"I am for the use of drones," said Howard Safir, former head of operations for the U.S. Marshals Service and former New York City police commissioner. He said drones could help police in manhunts, hostage situations and other difficult cases.

I'm sure Predator Drones in the skies above the U.S. can help law enforcement with all sorts of things. Stay indoors, everyone, and try to curb those tell-tale thermal images you emanate so profligately and carelessly. Keep your noses clean, and keep watching the skies!

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  • ||

    "Three men brandishing rifles" chased off a Sheriff?

    Either:
    1. He didn't have a warrant.
    2. This was an episode of the A-Team.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    "The better part of valour is discretion; in the which better part I have saved my life." -- Bill Somebody

    I'd rather a cop back off and get a better idea of what's going on. Or would you rather he blast his way through?

  •  ||

    The first one.

  • Punch in the Nads||

    Why would you assume the sheriff wasn't lying? He benefited from that whopper he told. Look at all the neat shit he raked in, plus out of county and federal personnel over a matter involving cattle.

  • sarcasmic||

    You can bet those three guys got a beat-down once they were in custody.

  • invisible furry hand||

    How many mutilated cattle were discovered after the drones had left?

  • Live Free or Diet||

    Chemical trails to you,
    until
    we meet
    again!

  • DJF||

    """Proponents say the high-resolution cameras, heat sensors and sophisticated radar on the border protection drones can help track criminal activity in the United States, just as the CIA uses Predators and other drones to spy on militants in Pakistan""'

    And we will ignore the repeated times when they identified the wrong target and killed innocent people. Law enforcement requires person to person contact so that misunderstandings can be corrected. One way information flow just reinforces bad information with bad interpretation.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    But but but ... Hold it. I agree. Well-said.

  • ||

    They aren't talking about armed drones, are they?

  • GroundTruth||

    This time.

  • Suki||

    If I shoot one down can I keep it just like the Iranians did?

  • Zippy DeDoodah||

    Law enforcement requires person to person contact so that misunderstandings can be corrected.

    Hence Tasers.

  • DJF||

    I should have said "Good law enforcement requires..."

    Bad law enforcement just requires a willingness to stomp on someone.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I only hope they can retrofit predator drones to scan for transfats, and maybe anti-state thoughts.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    You evidently presume they haven't.

    Next time you go outside, see if you can hear a faint buzzing sound or whine coming from somewhere far above you.

  • Lord Humungus||

    The Dystopian Future is today!

  • Intellectual Drone||

    This is outrageous! What's next--photographic radar to catch speeders?

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    Red-light sharks with frickin' lasers on their heads.

  • *||

    From TFA: Sheriff: "We don't have to go in guns blazing"

    For six missing cows? I should hope not.

    Even if they did steal them, jeez, at some point let it go, or consider that they were stolen fair and square.

    But no. From also the TFA: The result was "a misdemeanor count against Rodney involving the stray cattle"

    BTW, why didn't they use the drone to just look for the cows?

  • Suki||

    I am still trying to figure out how cattle rustling fits in with "Right wing." If the cows were being held captive by Marxists then maybe there is a possibility there. Otherwise they sound like 99%er commies who take stuff others have to make everything fair.

  • ||

    Rodney Brossart, his daughter Abby and his three sons face a total of 11 felony charges, including bail jumping and terrorizing a sheriff, as well as a misdemeanor count against Rodney involving the stray cattle.

    You left out the best part.

    And, of course, the whole thing originated in response to a misdemeanor. Those guys are lucky they're not dead.

  • SPLC||

    We wanted them alive so we can test out our Re-Attainment of Truth and Knowledge Camp.

  • ||

    Janke knew the gunmen could be anywhere on the 3,000-acre spread in eastern North Dakota. Fearful of an armed standoff, he called in reinforcements from the state Highway Patrol, a regional SWAT team, a bomb squad, ambulances and deputy sheriffs from three other counties.

    OFFICER SAFETY is paramount!

    Maybe the locals will vote him out for being a pussy; but I'm not holding my breath.

  • ||

    Send in the drones.

  • db||

    There ought to be drones.

  • db||

    Don't bother, they're here.

  • ||

    I know this is scary shit but consider, now that the chinese will get to see one, they will reverse engineer and figure out how to sell Americans with their own personal spy plane for about few hundred bucks. And so there will be this awful fucking distopian world of everyone watching everyone like 1984 on steroids. Courts will by then abnigate any shred of relevance and cede all authority of the executive and by allowing the executive's "secret interpretations" and allow for the purchase for as much omniscience as money and technology will buy.

    But I will have one too. And I can then watch the police watch me. Or I could help you watch the cops with you. Say there are about 5500 DEA agents. How many stoners are there out there? You know the onese. Those ones so poor they can only afford the bandwidth for cheap, undergound Warty porn. There are millions. We can watch them.

  • roystgnr||

    But I will have one too. And I can then watch the police watch me.

    Good luck getting and keeping your permit to fly it after the police get wind. "All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others." Do you think you can put a pen register tap on a police phone without going straight to jail for it?

  • Momma Shultz's cunt.||

    and still no one cares...

  • Ah Geez||

    Until now, I'd always envisioned that the phrase "It can happen here" referred to using military hardware and military surveillance against US citizens (even if they're asshats like these losers) somewhere in US borders, probably in one of those godless big cities like New York, LA, or Minneapolis. Not 100 miles away from my oft-mocked hometown. And all over 3 cows.

    And yes, they do talk like that.

  • Alan Vanneman||

    "For decades, U.S. courts have allowed law enforcement to conduct aerial surveillance without a warrant. They have ruled that what a person does in the open, even behind a backyard fence, can be seen from a passing airplane and is not protected by privacy laws."

    At least we know what judges do while flying--use binocs to search for couples doing in their backyard. It's easy and it's fun!

  • adam||

    If the cattle "strayed," how did this guy get a search warrant? Is there some new patriot act search warrant to look for missing property, as opposed to stolen property?

  • Colin||

    What happens when the Bloods capture one of these drones?

    What if they sell it to the Iranians?

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    I will be selling my anti-drone hat on TVC shopping channel. Two easy payments of $39.95.

    I'm also working on a drone detector that plugs into your cigarette lighter or can operate from its own convenient, rechargeable battery pack.

  • Anonymity Rules||

    I am outraged that law enforcement is resorting to technology.

  • jtuf||

    If thermal images of indoor events don't violate privacy, then it stands to reason TV stations are allowed to broadcast a thermal image recording of people having sex over the airwaves.

  • GroundTruth||

    Assuming that this drone was owned by some branch of the DOD, does this mean that posse comitatus is dead?

  • ||

    RTFA. The drone belongs to Border Patrol.

  • .||

    Stay indoors, everyone, and try to curb those tell-tale thermal images you emanate so profligately and carelessly.

    Yeah, everyone, just chill.

  • ||

    Allowing police to drive horseless carriages around town rather than walking a beat allows them to surveil a far greater area and threatens our cherished right to privacy.

    Some predict that in a few years, wireless radio contraptions may be installed in horseless carriages, which would allow them to communicate and coordinate their movements to a degree that was not envisioned by the Founders, opening the door for oppressive tyranny the likes of which has never been seen before.

  • Mr. Mark||

    "The family had repeated run-ins with local police, including the arrest of two family members earlier that day arising from their clash with a deputy over the cattle."

    Then why did Sheriff Whatshisname arrive unprepared for another problem?

    Other than that, I don't see a problem with this story.

    Regarding the broader issue of persistent aerial surveillance - yeah, I see a problem in most contexts, but it is reasonable along a national border. Assistance from such a system to a specific request for help is also reasonable.

    If the story were about how some state police agency were regularly flying drones around the state recorded video of all below in order to "keep people safe," that would be a whole other thing, entirely. But this story doesn't describe such a scenario. This story describes a drone being used for surveillance along a national border, a cop encountering allegedly violent lunatics unwilling to cooperate with the cop bearing a search warrant, and some cows.

    What you need here is a story about Mayor Bloomberg's NYPDAF Predator drone, dispatched to conduct persistent surveillance over Manhattan, identifying some Tea Party member (Rich Santelli, no doubt) putting salt on his fries at a table by a window. Then, reviewing months of prior video archived by Bloomberg's NYPDCIA, a facial/condiment recognition algorithm is able to produce evidence of a long pattern of french fry salting by Mr. Santelli, which then prompts a multi-agency operation to take down this serial salt-user and charge him with multiple crimes for the act (leveraging the concept of "concurrent jurisdiction") and sending him away to the Florence, Colorado SuperMax. That would be a story that more closely related to the problem of persistent, routine aerial surveillance by unmanned aerial systems over mainstreet, USA.

  • JEP||

    Ah, yes. Cue the escalation by engineering hobbyists. We always like a good challenge.

    Also, isn't there something in your property rights about having the rights to air above your property as well?

    It might not extend to 10,000 ft., but still...

  • ||

    Your tax dollars at work! High unemployment, huge debt, but the government manages to buy drones to spy on citizens over a cattle dispute....anybody defending this is seriously shortsighted!

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