Civil Liberties

A Third of Americans Worry About Police Getting Drones

Unfortunately, even more Americans are just fine with it


"Let's go make sure nothing illegal's going on at the nudist colony."

According to an Associated Press-National Constitution Center poll, 36 percent of Americans are "opposed" or "strongly opposed" to police use of unmanned drones in their law enforcement kit. Privacy concerns contribute:

When asked if they were concerned that police departments' use of drones for surveillance might cause them to lose privacy, 35 percent of respondents said they were "extremely concerned" or "very concerned." An almost identical share, 36 percent, said they were "not too concerned" or "not concerned at all."

Twenty-four percent fell in the middle, saying they were "somewhat concerned" about a potential loss of personal privacy.

Unfortunately, the opponents are still in the minority. A good 44 percent are okay with police using drones, but then anybody who has had to deal with somebody whose fear of being a crime victim is drastically greater than the statistical likelihood probably won't be surprised:

David Eisner, president and CEO of the constitution center in Philadelphia, said he was surprised by the level of support for police use of drones.

"I had assumed that the idea that American police would be using the same technology that our military is using in Afghanistan would garner an almost hysterical response," Eisner said. Support for drone use "shows that people are feeling less physically secure than they'd like to because they are willing to accept fairly extreme police action to improve that security."

Mind you, America's violent crime rate has been dropping for years.

Here's an exasperatingly rote defense from somebody who has obviously never known anybody affected by a wrong-door police raid:

But Sheana Buchanan, 49, of Apple Valley, Calif., said she had no qualms about police using drones.

"I figure if you're doing something wrong, then you should be concerned about it," Buchanan said. "But if you're a law-abiding citizen, if you're concerned about safety … and it's going to help catch the bad guys, have at it."

I wonder want Buchanan might think about even conservative think tanks like The Heritage Foundation proposing guidelines for use of domestic drones in order to protect privacy and civil liberties?