Drones

With Drone Guidelines, Top Cops Agree: No Killer Robots!

|

Drone

Earlier this week, the International Association of Chiefs of Police published a set of guidelines for the use of the unmanned aircraft — drones — that have been proliferating across the United States and the world beyond. The guidelines aren't binding but they do give us an "industry standard" to which we can point if any given police department or law-enforcement agency colors too far outside the lines. And yes, one of the points on which the organization's Aviation Committee members agree is that drones shouldn't be lethal. Well, not deliberately so, anyway.

Among the highlights from the IACP's Recommended Guidelines for the use of Unmanned Aircraft:

  • Equipping the aircraft with weapons of any type is strongly discouraged. Given the current state of the technology, the ability to effectively deploy weapons from a small UA is doubtful. Further, public acceptance of airborne use of force is likewise doubtful and could result in unnecessary community resistance to the program.
  • Where there are specific and articulable grounds to believe that the UA will collect evidence of criminal wrongdoing and if the UA will intrude upon reasonable expectations of privacy, the agency will secure a search warrant prior to conducting the flight.
  • Unless required as evidence of a crime, as part of an on-going investigation, for training, or required by law, images captured by a UA should not be retained by the agency.
  • Law enforcement agencies desiring to use UA should first determine how they will use this technology, including the costs and benefits to be gained. The agency should then engage their community early in the planning process, including their governing body and civil liberties advocates.

The guidelines also include recommendations for notifying the public of drone use, painting drones in high-visibility colors (so both their controllers and the public can see them), notifying residents in areas where drones will be used and tracking and recording their use.

As I mentioned, these guidelines are as binding as any given agency wants them to be, but they provide high-profile standards for law-enforcement, against which their real-world conduct can be measured.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which has been watching the drone issue closely, says "The IACP is to be applauded for addressing this issue, and for issuing recommendations that are quite strong in some areas." The ACLU also suggests some further restrictions on use, including tighter warrant requirements for non-emergency deployments of unmanned vehicles.

No armed drones? Skynet will just have to wait a little longer.

NEXT: Top Cops Adopt Drone Guidelines

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Further, public acceptance of airborne use of force is likewise doubtful and could result in unnecessary community resistance to the program.

    So, basically they would do it if they thought they could get away with it. So what they really agree on is “No killer robots, yet!”

    1. That was my reaction too.

      1. Like you don’t have a hard-on for murder-drones!

    2. Perhaps they are citing reasons the cops are likely to care about, as opposed to the morality of having killer robots flying over our land.

    3. That’s how I read it.

    4. No shit. The total absence of any concept that there should be any self-restraint by cops is striking, no?

      Weapons are “discouraged” because they don’t work well yet and there could be political backlash, not because it is a perfectly horrible idea.

      1. If they lead off saying you shouldn’t put weapons in drones because it would endanger innocent people, the cops would chuckle and ignore the rest of the guidelines.

        “Know your audience.”

        1. lol. this thread is the PERFECT example of the bigotry i have noted in the past.

          the argument style is also very similar to the ones that progs at DU etc. use.

          attach nefarious intent, lack of morals and conscience etc. to the “other”. it’s the same thing racists do, too.

          e.g. repubs have “lizard brains”, and libertarians are just as evil are repubs, they just like to smoke pot. they don’t care about morals, about poor people, about suffering, etc. it’s all about how much they can keep of their taxes and screw the “little guy”

          that kind of “logic”

          it’s really pretty amazing that in this day and age people can really BELIEVE this shit about their fellow man.

          1. Dunphy, I’m reading it right off the page. What I find interesting isn’t so much what is said, as what is not said.

            No “Under no circumstances should any drone be armed.” Instead, some bafflegab leaving the door open.

            1. “shall” not “should”

              Drones shall not carry weapons.

              There is no possible rational reason for law enforcement to have weaponized drones.

              1. anytime you engage in absolutes like that, you can probably find SOME exception, but generally speaking i agree

                and of course i am against the use of drones by law enforcement in case you were wondering

                let’s also remember we are talking IACP nimrods here.

                that aside, we have an example where even the ACLU says “The IACP is to be applauded for addressing this issue, and for issuing recommendations that are quite strong in some areas”

                iow, this is clearly a good thing (that the IACP is doing here) and STILL the vast majority of posts here either assume nefarious intent, make snarky negative comments, etc. but the idea that somebody might post something even the ACLU admits here “hey, looks like the cops (or specifically the police chiefs… not real cops, but i digress) are setting down some good ground rules and proactively establishing a nice policy baseline”

                nope, can’t have that. god forbid people concede what the ACLU etc. does and say “wow. good job”

                but again, we can agree – LE drones = bad

                1. Weaponized drone means military drone. There is no other way to look at it.

                2. and of course i am against the use of drones by law enforcement in case you were wondering

                  let’s also remember we are talking IACP nimrods here.

                  Dunphy disagrees most vehemently with his masters. That will not stop him from obeying little soldier ant.

                  1. yawn.

                    troll-o-meter: .01

                    btw, if and when my masters order me to violate the constitution, i will decline to do so.

                    my commitment is to the constitution, not to “my masters”

                    that aside, my MASTERS are the people in the community i serve

                    the police chief is just an appointed representative.

              2. There is no possible rational reason for law enforcement to have weaponized drones.

                They serve no valid sporting purpose.

                1. lol nice

          2. dunphy,

            it’s less about cops in general and far more about govt in particular, particularly the section of govt which is elected. Cops work for police chiefs who are hired either at the discretion of city councils, or by city managers who are hired at the discretion of city councils.

            Stuff about one’s “fellow man” becomes easier to believe when it is played out. Repeatedly. And folks whom we assume would know better condone it. Some in the profession, aided and abetted by the political class, make all of you in uniform look bad. I have no doubt most cops are honorable people because I have known them, but it’s like soldiers – the bad apples whom the system covers for tarnish the entire branch.

            I do not trust the political class EVER to stop with a small chunk of power when bigger chunks can be had. It violates the very nature of govt.

            1. i think this is a slight disconnect we have

              yes, in a sense we work for our chief, but not really

              we are “peace officers”, “public officers” and we ultimately work for the people, in a position of public trust

              my duty is to the constitution, the people and the RCW before it is to my chief.

              that’s why, among other reasons, i SUPPORT binding arbitration, due process for cops, etc.

              police chiefs are politicians and they should not have the power to fire a public officer without review – that’s what arbitration etc. are there for. otherwise, we (street cops) are merely political appointees by proxy so to speak.

              but we aren’t. we are public officers, with a commission to serve in the public trust. it’s the same reason why, in my state, if an officer is fired for issues of moral turpitude, dishonesty, etc. NO agency in WA state can hire him again per the law

          3. Then there’s this spark of wit: “Unless required as evidence of a crime, as part of an on-going investigation, for training, or required by law, images captured by a UA should not be retained by the agency.”

            In other words, pass a law requiring retention of photos, and it’s all ok.

            Yeah, they is on my side, I can trust them to do nothing illegal. Constitution and morality be damned, just pass a law, ok?

      2. Weapons are “discouraged” because they don’t work well yet and there could be political backlash, not because it is a perfectly horrible idea.

        We’re against providing you with all of our customers’ secret personal information, because it’s too complex and expensive.

    5. again, always a negative spin with cop stuff

      what they are saying is that – yes they are considering community (predicted) reaction as a factor to be considered. your spin is just that… spin

      cops are supposed to work in partnership with the community, not adopt an “us vs. them” attitude.

      1. So you’ve failed then?

        1. not according to the people in my community

          every time we run a “citizen’s academy” we get way more applicants than we can take

          fortunately, we’ve moved away from the “just the facts, ma’am” style of cold police work popularized (and enforced by policy) of the dragnet era LAPD and moved back towards the Mayberry, community policing, partnership with the community model.

          cops are not an occupying army, to be effective, we must work in partnership with the community

          i’ve seen some really good results in our community, areas hit by piece of shit burglars have made great strides in working with cops and each other, gathering intel, watching out for their neighbors, etc.

          that all came to a perfect exclamation point when one of the leaders of the neighborhood anti-crime organization, held that burglar at gunpoint in his garage.

          nothing is more of a “force multiplier” for police than a well informed, armed, caring community looking out for each other.

          1. folks want to believe cops are good because they need to believe that. Then we see the stories not just of bad apples, but far worse, the system covering up for the bad ones.

            I accept that any large organization will have its share of morons; it’s simple math. But I have difficulty accepting how a system willfully covers for, no other word for it, criminals. In its ranks. I know you have pointed out instances of guys being punished, but we’ve seen numerous stories of civilians being killed and nothing happening. That alone makes everyone wonder if they might be next, if the officer they are involved with is a nut with a badge or not.

            1. no, people believe cops are good because their experience with cops supports that.

              overwhelmigly they are. considering that at least half the movies, tv shows, etc. deal with the whole corrupt cop thing, that you have movies like “training day” etc. i mean, CMON

              “In its ranks. I know you have pointed out instances of guys being punished, but we’ve seen numerous stories of civilians being killed and nothing happening. ”

              killing somebody isn’t illegal. need i distinguish between justified and unjustified homicide?

              that aside, i simply believe you are wrong. i suggest that *if* you study the law regarding deadly force and you study police shootings, you will see that the vast majority are obviously justified as hell, and only a small minority are even remotely questionable.

              worrying about if you may be next is a baseless worry, when you look at the stats, and the circumstances surrounding when cops kill people

              sure, if you get pulled over at gunpoint (as i was in college), and you reach for your waistband, you may get shot, but the idea that the average law abiding citizen has ANYTHING to fear from cops – well, except for staggeringly rare circumstances – it’s simply not true.

              again, there are exceptions.

            2. These are the cops from Dunphy’s neighborhood – Seattle woodworker shooting, the guy the Seattle cop smashed against the wall in Belltown, the recent “head-stomper of cuffed suspect”, and of course, the racially charged “beat the Mexican Piss out of you” cop.

              The cricket sounds you hear are Dunphy and his cadre of “good cops” remaining silent on these abuses in the hopes the favor will be returned one day.

              1. and again, the guy “smashed against the wall in belltown” was OBVIOUSLY JUSTIFIED.

                sure, it had a tragic result.

                but it was most definitely justified, and i don’t see how anybody can look at the facts, EVEN IN A WAY MOST DISFAVORABLE to the cops and not see a clearly justified tackle.

                this is the kind of disingenuous shit that gets old./

                as for the “head stomper”, that was a very minor use of force. hint: what injuries did the stompee receive? if he was actually head stomped they would have been substantial.

                should he have said the mexican piss comment? of course not. groslly unprofessional. did he deserve a suspension? sure.

                there are no crickets here.

                again, the guy who ran (several blocks from the police) after being (apparently, wrongly…) identified as a suspect in a violent crime and then was tackled.

                CLEARLY justified.

      2. So when a reason commenter writes that you shouldn’t shoot at cops because they might get angry with the community afterward, will you be as sanguine about that statement?

      3. There are lots of things that people are supposed to do but choose not to.

      4. yes they are considering community (predicted) reaction as a factor to be considered.

        A “factor” to be “considered”. Doesn’t exactly give me the warm fuzzies.

        What I’m looking for is some recognition of the idea that the police have a very limited and restricted role in a free society. That notion apparently never comes up in conversation.

        1. Can’t leave these sort of decisions up to mere civilians.

        2. apparently?

          clearly you’ve never been to one of our role calls or our meetings with the community

          one of the most common themes i see is community members wishing cops had way more power TO seize, arrest and search suspected bad guys, and us explaining that – just because we all know about the drug house at the end of the street, and the fact they are slinging dope and stolen property doesn’t mean we can crash in their door and seize all the stolen property, etc. that we have strong constitutioonal limits (especially in my state) and we respect the rights of even the multiple convicted felon thief

          have you been to any community meetings with the police? ime, the general theme is that they wish we HAD way more power, and we are the ones explaining about that “pesky constitution”

          1. Glad to hear it.

            The base desires of the mob are, of course, why we are supposed to have a Constitution in the first place.

            Is the response along the lines of “This is a free society, and what you are asking for is an authoritarian police state”, or is it “Well, you know that darned Constitution just won’t let us do the right thing here. But if we could, we would!”

            1. the response is a bit more “peecee” but yea, that’s pretty much it.

              what we encourage neighbors to do vis a vis these houses is to keep their eyes out, to record license plate #’s and stuff like that

              it’s helpful intel and helps us develop nice link charts and put the pieces together.

              i’ve seen some of this intel lead to big results way down the line

              sometimes it’s small stuff like that. consider the son of sam, initially suspected iirc because of parking tickets at a couple of scenes (iirc might have been a different case).

              my point is just that the general public’s view of the police is, contra the reason meme, often such that people see us as “handcuffed” by overly restrictive limitations in going after the bad guys and i see just immense community support for us.

              we open PSP’s and often get pretty good results, but that’s almost always because we get good interaction with the community

              public safety and crime prevention are everybody’s concern and i think a lot of people realize that

          2. one of the most common themes i see is community members wishing cops had way more power TO seize, arrest and search suspected bad guys,

            Wasn’t there some guy who once said something about those who would trade liberty to gain a little security deserved neither one and would lose both? Probably just some old, dead, white guy who lived at least a hundred years ago. He might even have owned slaves or something.

            It’s all fun and games until the long arm of the law is reaching for you.

            1. i totally agreee

              like i said, IN GENERAL, i would like to see police have LESS power not more.

              i would prefer a constitution (like my state has) that is MORE restrictive on govt. power not less.

              i am sure we both agree that the essnce of the 4th amendment is that the govt. should leave people the fuck alone without good cause to fuck with them, and that the burden is always on the govt. to justify intrusion

  2. Don’t worry, as long as Obama and Holder are setting the national policy, assassin drones will ONLY be used in extraordinary circumstances on American soil. Another good reason to vote Obama 2012. Just imagine what Romney might do! Good grief!

  3. “And if we do arm them and we kill a van full of little kids, we will review these procedure and re-train. We’ll keep reviewing and re-training until you stop caring about us kill vanfuls of kids. Who probably had it coming anyway because drugs mumble mumble terrorism.”

    1. And don’t forget, we want all our brave men in blue to be able to come home to their families at the end of their shift, safe and sound. And people shouldn’t be standing near suspects when we have a drone in the area, anyway.

    2. “We have no civilian casualties to report.”

      If you are a 12-year-old male standing within 100 yards of a targeted shoplifter, pot-smoker, gangster, terrorist or drug lord, you are considered a viable target.

      1. Should have moved out of the country.

  4. Time to start engineering surface-to-air missiles for drones.

    1. New market opportunities for Estes.

      1. Knitted SAMs, in 16 exciting patterns.

  5. Land of the free and home of the brave: What a lie that is. One has to believe in the tooth fairy to believe that line of crap.

    We’ve become just as soft, cowardly, lazy and worthless as the rest of the world.

    1. Speak for yourself, Kemosabe.

      Me? I’m goin’ DRONE huntin’ this weekend with my 12 ga.!

    2. utter rubbish. in the last few decades, right to carry recognition has vastly expanded and we have (mostly) fought against the tendency in the “civilized world” to erode speech rights in favor of going after “hate speech”

      1. Tell me about the Fourth Amendment, Captain Dunph.

        1. i can. imo, it’s woefully insufficient. preventing only UNreasonable searches and seizures and not recognizing a RIGHT TO PRIVACY, which my state constitution does

          i’d love to have a 4th that was MORE respectful of privacy and less respective of govt. power.

          fortunately, i see an arc that has resulted in more restrictive search and seizure authority, within the comfortable confines of WA state. cites available upon request

  6. Where there are specific and articulable grounds to believe that the UA will collect evidence of criminal wrongdoing and if the UA will intrude upon reasonable expectations of privacy, the agency will secure a search warrant prior to conducting the flight.

    But if they randomly catch something that might help use persecute prosecute a crime, hey, that’s a bonus and we’ll use it. Mmm’kay?

    1. You’ll be singing a different tune when a mafia don picks you up off the street and ties you up in his courtyard, separated from the rest of the world by walls of stone. You’ll be praying to any god who is listening to see the fluorescent green glint of a drone in the sky.

      1. Well, yeah, then. But TILL THEN…

  7. Here’s my concern with these motherfuckers. People do a lot of shit in the air – para-sailing, para-shooting, hang-gliding, etc. There is a good chance someone is going to collide with one and be killed.

    1. “The drone did have flew into the poorly-regulated hot air balloon gathering.”

  8. I think they’ll mostly be used to check out chicks laying out in their bikinis.

    1. Unless required as evidence of a crime, as part of an on-going investigation, for training, or required by law, images captured by a UA should not be retained by the agency.

      Of course, they *will* be.

      Especially those chicks laying out in their bikinis.

      1. In the interest of fairness: The images might not be retained by the *agency* per se ….

  9. Drone protests outside General Atomics in San Diego yesterday: http://www.kpbs.org/news/2012/…..san-diego/

    1. Why do I get a bad feeling when military/police tech is made by a company called General Atomics?

  10. So when street thugs put up surveillance drones to track the movements of the police cars on public streets, the police are going to be hunky-dory with this, right?

    1. I’ll bet the drug cartels have *satellites*.

    2. fwiw, sprackers are notorious and prolific in their use of technology.

      chances are, if it’s a spracked out meth-house, they’ve got metric assloads of video surveillance, audio surveillance, etc. etc.

      btw, if you get the movie ‘spun’ you can get a good insight into the mindset of them

      people are, even non sprackers CONSTANTLY filming us etc.

      but their intel generally sucks. it amazes me that, for example, they don’t know our shift change times, staffing levels, etc.

      when i worked undercover, i dealt with one or two guys (criminals) who were super organized this way. they knew the staffing, the radio codes, they knew which agencies could pursue and which don’t

      for example, assume you are a car thief

      just in the greater seattle area, there are agencies that only pursuse for BARK felonies (residential Burglary, Arson, Rape, Kidnapping, etc.)

      iow, only a moron would steal a car in city X, that CAN pursue them vs. city Y a few miles away where they CANNOT

      shit like that.

      we cathc the stupid and disorganized ones, usually.

      there are simple steps a criminal can take to make their success rate much higher, and protect themselves much more in regards to apprehension etc. and SO few use any due diligence whatsoever in this regard

      do you want to d

      1. Thanks for the value-added comment.

        1. Hey, remember, dunphy is an unparalelled force for good, or whatever it was he claimed yesterday.

          I think the USN is going to sue him for Trademark violation.

          1. nope, i’m just a simple man doing a difficult job DAMN well and making the world a better place one call at a time.

            thanks for your concern

  11. http://www.slate.com/blogs/fut…..deos_.html

    Second video:

    As an engineer, I am thrilled with this stuff.

    In the context of weaponized drones, it is terrifying.

  12. Armed or not, drones in our skies = one step closer to a police state.

    Period.

    1. Individual police officers can fly around and spy on people, so it’s OK if they do the same with drones.

      /Tulpa logic

      1. Don’t forget, also: Warning other drivers of the speed trap ahead = encouraging armed, masked men to rob a bank.

        /more Tulpa logic

        1. Don’t forget to password protect your WiFi!

          1. Password-protecting any electronic device = you have something to hide from The State = SPLC-approved hate-group labeling.

      2. There is a real issued with scale.

        An officer on stake-out taking photographs is not the same as a camera mounted on a lamp post photgraphing every car that goes by.

        And an officer in an aircraft chasing a fleeing suspect is not the same as a drone cruising around photographing everything in its line of sight.

        1. An officer on stake-out taking photographs is not the same as a camera mounted on a lamp post photgraphing every car that goes by.

          You just lit the Tulpa beacon.

          1. it’s actually an interesting issue, and i think the mosaic theory (kerr over at volokh.com) has some insight

            but in brief, the issue CONSTITUTIONALLY (vs. policy) is generally that – if an officer can lawfully observe you doing X, then officers can lawfully use technology to record you doing X.

            iow there is no constitutional violatioin with an officer sitting at an intersection and recording every license plate that goes by and running it for warrant, etc

            GIVEN that, it’s hard to make an argument that there’s a constitutional violation with using a camera to do so

            i don’t LIKE it, but that’s a far cry from saying it’s unconstitutional.

            contrary to what one ignoramus posted here a while back, there is no threshold of suspciion needed in order to just follow somebody (within REASON) or needed to check their license plate

            the problem with technology is that it is now much easier to do in the aggregate with great #’s of cars, and from multiple locales.

            which is troubling from a privacy perspective, but again – where’s the CONSTITUTIONAL violation

  13. “Further, public acceptance of airborne use of force is likewise doubtful and could result in unnecessary community resistance to the program.”

    unnecessary?!

    Fuck off, slavers.

    1. Notice stuff like this domestic-drone surveillance is happening under a Team Blue-majority administration, and that said Team doesn’t seem all that concerned.

      1. If it helps catch one hate group from 15,000′, it was worth it.

      2. If Romney gets elected, I’m sure they’ll suddenly start caring about this shit, but until then? Something about kill list meeting, due process, Obama’s really smart, mumble mumble, blah blah blah.

  14. The first “good ol boy” who takes down a drone with a shotgun will be the new American hero. (just stating the obvious, here, but stating it nevertheless).

  15. When you boil it right down, its the qualifiers and bureaucratic waffling that make the weapons “policy” so offensive.

    On the rest, the baseline assumption seems to be that drones can (and should!) surveil everything, with a few carved out exceptions. I particularly like the one on search warrants:

    Where there are specific and articulable grounds to believe that the UA will collect evidence of criminal wrongdoing and if the UA will intrude upon reasonable expectations of privacy, the agency will secure a search warrant prior to conducting the flight.

    Read that carefully. What it says is that, when they can get a warrant, they’ll get a warrant; why not? What it doesn’t say is that they won’t fly these damn things except as authorized by a warrant. The “and” is particularly damning – it means that where privacy will be invaded, they will get a warrant only if there are grounds to believe they can collect evidence. They aren’t concerned about privacy; they are concerned about making sure some jumped up defense attorney doesn’t get their precious drone video thrown out on a technicality.

    IOW, what reads as a nice concern for civil and privacy rights, actually means nothing at all.

    1. the problem is that while drones are awful from a POLICY perspective, i have yet to see a compelling constitutional (note: FEDERAL constitution) argument against them

      heck , in my state we already have broad privacy rights, which at least gives us a line of attack to hopefully restrain such drones, but from a 4th amendment angle – i’m not confident

      federally, for example, it’s ok to fly over somebody’s curtilage to look for (god forbid) MJ. and if it’s constitutional to do with a helicopter or airplane, then a drone is equally constitutional

      again, i’ve made this point before, but imo what we NEED is a stronger constitutional amendment that recognizes and vigorously defends PRIVACY

      1. You’ve made me break my self-imposed ban on replying to you but my bullshit meter just pegged.

        we NEED is a stronger constitutional amendment that recognizes and vigorously defends PRIVACY

        We have such an amendment:

        The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people

        You have the right to breed hamsters.
        You have the right to shove birdseed up your ass.
        You have the right to launch bottle rockets from your patio.
        You have the right to privacy.
        You have the right to ride a bicycle backwards.
        You have the right to shoot fish in a rainbarrel.

        Seems pretty fucking clear to me.

        hth

        … Hobbit

  16. Harvard creates autonomous shape-shifting robots with camouflage capabilities… What could possibly go wrong?

    http://blogs.scientificamerica…..ss-robots/

  17. The best thing thing to happen in America in 100 years will be when $5 per hour call center workers in AP can blow away random American citizens. Procedures will always be followed. Unionized cops will become obsolete. Cities will just be able to plug in a number, how many residents they want killed, men, women, dogs, and then it will happen, exactly by “procedure”.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.