Drone Home

Flyover country


The U.S. government is not using drones just for overseas operations in the War on Terror. It is also using unmanned aircraft for domestic law enforcement.

The U.S. Border Patrol has had permission to use unarmed drones since 2005, and there are now nine of them flying along the border with Mexico. Since 2007, permission to fly drones has been granted to some domestic police departments by the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Aviation Administration raising privacy concerns. 

In December the Los Angeles Times reported the very first arrest of American citizens using a Predator drone. On June 23, police investigating missing cattle tried to serve a search warrant at a farm in Nelson County, North Dakota, and were ordered off the property at gunpoint. Before sending in a SWAT team the next morning, police twice used a Predator B drone to conduct infrared surveillance of the property, the second time to verify that the residents were no longer armed.

Cops are keen on drone technology, since the aircraft can fly for 20 hours, much longer than planes or helicopters. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that aerial surveillance of private property does not constitute a search under the Fourth Amendment and therefore does not require a warrant.