Drones aren't something most residents worry about on a day-to-day basis. But they may be flying over the skies of Alameda County soon if Sheriff Gregory Ahern gets his way.
Ahern is looking at buying a surveillance drone, an unmanned aircraft system, for search and rescue missions, bomb threats, SWAT operations, marijuana grows, fires and natural disasters. But the proposal has already drummed up backlash from privacy advocates worried that drone technology is outpacing safeguards.
So far Alameda County has only tested them. Ahern is eyeing a unit weighing four pounds with a four-foot wing span in the $50,000 to $100,000 price range. He and his deputies will have the chance to test others next week at the Urban Shield regional disaster-preparedness exercises. The department, however, can't buy one until they receive Federal Aviation Administration authorization.