back to article As Uncle Sam flies spy drones over protest-packed cities, Homeland Security asks the public if that's a good idea

Following weeks of heated protests in American cities – and criticism of law enforcement's use of force, surveillance, and drone aircraft in the skies above – the US government has belatedly asked the public what it thinks. The US Department of Homeland Security wants your comments on the use of drones by police and other …

  1. tekHedd
    Meh

    You asked my opinion about drones...

    Are you suggesting that we can stop you from spying on us with drones even if the entire country unanimously suggested it in an overwhelming torrent of comments that crashed the servers? Because I'm not sure I'd believe that.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: You asked my opinion about drones...

      They will probably keep the drones and increase the number even if the results go to "stop". Their reasoning is along the line of many hard-core police and government types... "if have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear."

      As for the public polling, and what's will be asked, I'm sure there's some in depth analysis going on of the respondents involving IP addy.

    2. Blazde

      Re: You asked my opinion about drones...

      "[The] purpose of this survey is to understand the public perception of and identify concerns with [drones]"

      This means they don't think public acceptance of drones is where they'd like it to be, and they want to understand it better before launching an appropriate marketing campaign to 'inform' the public and change perceptions.

      1. The First Dave Silver badge

        Re: You asked my opinion about drones...

        Correction: "The primary purpose of this survey is to collect data on trouble-making citizens."

    3. Drew Scriver Silver badge

      Re: You asked my opinion about drones...

      They're expecting no more than 2,000 responses, or 0.0012% of registered voters. Or 0.001% of adults in the USA.

      Worse, I'm afraid they'll be right about that.

      According to https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=DHS-2019-0057-0003:

      - Frequency of Collection: One per request.

      - Average Burden per Response: 20 minutes or under.

      - Total Estimated Number of Annual Responses: 2,000.

      - Total Estimated Number of Annual Burden Hours: 660.

    4. JCitizen Bronze badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: You asked my opinion about drones...

      I think drones are the best thing since sliced bread. Why wouldn't military and police use them to the upmost. They already were using helicopters, which were ineffective at identifying the actual bad actors in a crowd. I was trained in riot control in the National Guard, and we always employed snipers with the best visual equipment we could get to surveil from a tall building or other over look in troubled areas. This way the actual bad actors could be discovered, and video documented, and if need be, taken out if the danger to the public is perilous enough.

      The only problem is leadership. You have to tip the balance toward 1st Amendment rights and use discretion when surveilling troublesome demonstrations that could blow up in your face. I think it is ridiculous to ham string our LEOs from using the best equipment and hardware available. However it takes good training and leadership which seems to be greatly lacking in these times; as it is obvious too many 1st responders were not behaving under a good SOP governance. Maybe the police went mad and rioted them selves? We need those assets to prove both sides of the equation. It can save lives or weed out bad law enforcement personnel; but it will take good directors and leaders to know the difference and be transparent with the public in their tactics(to a point) and mistakes. Don't tell me it can't be done - that doesn't matter, we need to strive to that goal no matter what.

      1. IGotOut Silver badge

        Re: You asked my opinion about drones...

        . "I was trained in riot control in the National Guard, and we always employed snipers with the best visual equipment we could get to surveil from a tall building or other overlook in troubled areas. "

        That right there sums up everything that is wrong with the US attitude to crowd control.

        Still, the leadership was spot on in the '50s, the '60s and '70s eh?

        Having the military involved in policing actions will ALWAYS result in problems.

        And yes, the UK has a poor history on this as well, but hopefully, we've moved on.Time you guys did as well.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: You asked my opinion about drones...

        Yes. We need to strive toward that goal. Until it is attained, hamstring LEO. We've seen enough.

      3. William Higinbotham

        Re: You asked my opinion about drones...

        Until your wife and kids are in the back yard sunning themselves and gets leaked.

  2. teknopaul Silver badge

    arms and no brain

    First responder organizations have used UAS to search for lost children, bullshit, bullshit, bullshit, and many other use cases which justify the name Predator such as shooting "hellfire" missiles at people from the comfort of a bunker.

    Its crazy that armed people dont understand that their presence is a threat.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Schultz Silver badge
        Alert

        "lol they're just using them for surveillance"

        You could make a strong case that the police or firefighters should use drones to help with search and rescue operations or to track forest fires. By all means, we should discuss for which situations the benefit is worth the cost and then draw up rules for the use of drones in well-defined circumstances. But to give the all-encompassing Homeland Security agency permission to use drones for "...many other use cases" sounds a bit too broad to allow a meaningful discussion.

        If they wanted your informed feedback, they would inform you about what they want to do with the drones. They don't, so feel free to think about child rescue, hellfire missiles, or Orwell-style surveillance. That tells the rest of us a lot about you, but it doesn't contribute to a constructive discussion about drone use.

        1. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge

          Re: "lol they're just using them for surveillance"

          I definitely cannot speak for conditions across the US, but the five counties and cites around me all have had UAS integrated into their order of battle for years. With a common APCO P.25 radio infrastructure and officers co-locating at each others' emergency communication centers, they do a reasonably good job of sharing actionable information. UAS are indeed used to find lost people and assess fires, and have done so successfully. The police do UAS demos at schools all the time to show students what can and cannot be done with the platforms, and of course to recruit I suppose.

          So why does local law enforcement need a Predator? When they already have UAS up (I've seen 'em)? They probably don't. A time of crisis in not an appropriate moment for integrating a new system into your order of battle.

          So there are three reasons: ISR for the federal forces in the ground, intimidate the local police, and to send a big f__k you to the governor of a state. The latter makes sense only if the national leader is prone to temper tantrums. Oh, wait...

          1. JCitizen Bronze badge
            Go

            Re: "lol they're just using them for surveillance"

            I totally agree with you Chairman of the Bored!!

          2. teknopaul Silver badge

            Re: "lol they're just using them for surveillance"

            Word. I'd prefer to pulled out of the water by a well funded RNLA than a well funded death squad.

            The use of drones in emergencies and use of military surveilance at protests are two unrelated questions despite the fact that the ministry of truth would have us think otherwise.

            When military kit is the best for civvy use, you paint it orange.

          3. AVee

            Re: "lol they're just using them for surveillance"

            > "... order of battle ..."

            As a none US person that kind of terminology baffles me. Where's the war? I though it was 'to serve and protect'...

            1. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge

              Re: "lol they're just using them for surveillance"

              My fault using "order of battle"; it's probably uncommon outside of military and law enforcement circles.

              I learned my electronics in the military. OOB refers to the command authority, structure, number of people, disposition of personnel, and equipment of a military or police force. No matter how peaceful your local coppers are, they think in these terms.

              Personally I don't think the solution to US problems is to refund the police, but let's stop giving them military-grade kit and hiring guys who think they're freaking Rambo. If you step on the street with enough weapons to whack everyone in a block's radius you are sending a message...

  3. doublelayer Silver badge

    Purpose of survey questions

    ""The survey will ask respondents to report":

    "their demographic characteristics": Either to be used to argue against someone's opinion on a demographic characteristic or to completely ignore some subset. Lots of options to make fallacious arguments on that basis, and also a worthless question.

    "their knowledge of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS)": In order to dismiss arguments as "that person doesn't know anything".

    "their knowledge of the use of UAS by first responders": To bias them in favor of a favorable opinion and for further "they know nothing" potential.

    "their overall trust in the use of new technologies by the government and first responders": To dismiss all points raised against it as being made by paranoid lunatics.

    "their general attitudes about such use": To dismiss all arguments against it as hating law enforcement.

    "and their opinions about the use of drones by first responders for specific applications like search-and-rescue.": Further to bias people to a favorable opinion.

    You know what I don't see in that list? How about a question about people's opinions of drone use for purposes like policing? Not search and rescue? The reasons they've been used recently. How are you supposed to figure out what people think if you don't ask about the thing you're going to talk about? If you don't care what people think, why do you bother to ask them?

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Purpose of survey questions

      You know what I don't see in that list? How about a question about people's opinions of drone use for purposes like policing? Not search and rescue? The reasons they've been used recently. How are you supposed to figure out what people think if you don't ask about the thing you're going to talk about? If you don't care what people think, why do you bother to ask them?

      Why? It's a slanted and carefully crafted poll. "Do you want to be against finding lost children?" for example. So this boils down to pure public relations and eye wash for the masses so they can seem to say "we care".

      1. Wellyboot Silver badge

        Re: Purpose of survey questions

        >>>boils down to pure public relations and eye wash<<<

        Example of how polls are conducted:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0ZZJXw4MTA

        1. Colin 22

          Remember, "Yes Minister" is a documentary, not a comedy

          1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
            Headmaster

            Arguably it's more that on all too frequent occasions, government is a comedy, or at least it would be if it weren't so scary and/or tragic.

            In the worst case it's one of those topics that you can't even parody, as it's so absurd in its own right.

            And also don't forget who actually wrote Yes (Prime) Minister, and who covertly advised them.

        2. JCitizen Bronze badge
          FAIL

          Re: Purpose of survey questions

          Exactly! - Wellyboot

    2. DS999
      Pint

      Re: Purpose of survey questions

      Damn, I read this and was going to post a criticism but you saved me the effort and did a better job of it than I would!

    3. TrumpSlurp the Troll Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Purpose of survey questions

      I am occasionally cynical, and I wouldn't trust the intent behind this survey.

      However the questions being asked would also be needed for a genuine survey trying to understand perceptions.

      Do you know a lot about the subject and have a high degree of experience?

      Do you know very little about the subject?

      A valid result might be that:

      (1) People who understand the uses, limitations and capabilities support the use of drones but people without this information distrust the technologies.

      or

      (2) People who really understand the issues are deeply uncomfortable with current and planned future uses but people who have a hobby drone think the whole thing is cool and see no problems.

      So the questions themselves may be valid and could also highlight where there are real or perceived issues. Cynicism suggests it is just the start of a propaganda exercise to justify what they are doing and intend to keep on doing.

  4. ST Silver badge
    Meh

    I submitted my comment

    It did not ask me for any personal information.

    I could have chosen to provide them with my personal information, if I wanted to. I chose to submit my comment anonymously.

    After submitting my comment, I was provided with a tracking identifier for my comment. I chose to have the tracking identifier emailed to me.

    At no time was my ability to submit my comment constrained on my providing personally identifiable information to DHS.

    It is not true that there are questions to be answered. There are no questions.

    There is a relatively large text input field where participants can type in their comments. The comments can be written in free format. My comment was written in free format.

    You are also given the opportunity to upload a file, if you so choose.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I submitted my comment

      You chose to allow them to associate a tracking identifier with your email address. But you gave them no personal information.

      Well done.

      1. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge

        Re: I submitted my comment

        Well, I sent my $0.02. Accessed the survey through Tor, natch. That probably just means my comment is deleted.

      2. ST Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: I submitted my comment

        > You chose to allow them to associate a tracking identifier with your email address. But you gave them no personal information.

        I chose to give them my email. They did not require me to give it to them.

        Are you experiencing basic English comprehension problems? Or is the conceptual difference between free choice vs. coercion much too complex for you?

    2. Wellyboot Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: I submitted my comment

      Connected via the web, gave an email address.

      Perhaps they don't need any more personal details...

    3. iron Silver badge

      Re: I submitted my comment

      > I was provided with a tracking identifier for my comment. I chose to have the tracking identifier emailed to me.

      > At no time was my ability to submit my comment constrained on my providing personally identifiable information to DHS.

      These two sentences are mutually exclusive. An email address is even identified as personally identifiable information in GDPR.

      1. ST Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: I submitted my comment

        > These two sentences are mutually exclusive.

        No, they are not. As soon as you can understand what they mean.

        Note to self: the Euro-Morons are up early today.

        1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

          Re: I submitted my comment

          Actually, it is considerably LATER in Europe than in the USA. Look up the concept of "time zone"

          1. ST Silver badge
            FAIL

            Re: I submitted my comment

            > Actually, it is considerably LATER in Europe than in the USA.

            Yes, it is. Which means: when the Euro-Morons post their moronic stuff early in the morning - BST or CET - I get to read it when I wake up early in the morning.

            That's because the Euro-Morons have already written. Because they woke up early. They wrote their posts early.

            Other than providing a perfect example of the Euro-Moron concept, was there a cogent point you were trying to make?

        2. Cereberus

          Re: I submitted my comment

          Its such a shame you descended into abuse of Europeans as I agree that the 2 sentences are not mutually exclusive.

          I can give my opinion anonymously, but I can waive that anonymity if I so choose is not the same as I have to give identifying information in order to give my opinion.

          The only caveat is that if you do give any information you might as well give it all as it will all be linked on some database somewhere so it is arguably an all or nothing proposition. Using Tor is irrelevant as soon as you give your email address, but that is again a choice.

          I would like to know if they filter the responses so that any that can be identified as coming through Tor are ignored as they could have come from another country.

          1. ST Silver badge

            Re: I submitted my comment

            > Its such a shame you descended into abuse of Europeans [ ... ]

            Par for the course.

            Stop referring to the US as some kind of evil fascist dictatorship that Europeans are entitled to despise. As a quick recap of history, the US never practiced fascism as a political system, nor did we ever pursue it. That's not what I can say about some European countries, past, or present.

            Stop creating this false equivalence between the US as a country, Americans in general, and Donald Trump. And in doing so, stop painting all of us with this broad, toxic brush that misrepresents all of us Americans as deranged and fanatical Trump supporters that are out to destroy the world and trample all over your civil rights and liberties.

            You are fully entitled to criticize - 75 years later - the Pax Americana that we imposed on Western Europe after WWII. Just remember that your right to criticize us, and our presence in Europe, was and is safeguarded by our troops, our tanks, our jet fighters and our military personnel.

            We, Americans, collectively, have spent untold amounts of our own money protecting Western Europe since 1945. That money did not grow on trees. We could have spent it on our own needs, but we didn't. We gave up having a decent social safety net for our own citizens and residents, complete with national health insurance, and a national pension plan that provides a livable wage. Most, if not all, of the EU member states enjoy these universal benefits, today. We don't.

            Feel free to criticize our bloated military expenditures, which are the root cause why we do not have a decent social safety net. But before you do so, take a moment to think what these expenditures are for.

            If you believe that EU's civil rights and liberties that are available to you are vastly superior to those available to us Americans in the US, that's great. I envy you. Do not forget that all these liberties that you currently enjoy were made possible by our permanent presence in Western Europe ever since 1945.

            Stop manufacturing lies about every single thing that the US does. No-one is perfect. Neither is the EU, or any of its member states.

            Case in point, this DHS survey. There is not an iota of evidence that DHS is trying to obtain personally identifiable information from this survey. Or that there is some malignant intention behind the survey. Yet, there are plenty of misinformed statements here, that assert exactly that. Many of the assertions are completely false.

            This is not the first time this happens, and it is a recurring topic.

            I have personally experienced this toxic Euro-entitled attitude vis-a-vis Americans when I was stationed in Europe as a young US sailor - squid for those in the know - and every single time I traveled to Europe since. I get to read it here every single time there's an article involving something in, or about, the US.

            Please stop.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: I submitted my comment

              "Stop manufacturing lies about every single thing that the US does. No-one is perfect." Ha ha ha ha ha - you so silly!

              (And to answer your obvious retort, I'm born in USA, TYVM)

            2. paulll

              Re: I submitted my comment

              "But before you do so, take a moment to think what these expenditures are for."

              It's certainly not anything to do with winning wars lol

            3. IGotOut Silver badge

              Re: I submitted my comment

              Oh here we go. Let's get some history straightened.

              The US ONLY entered WW2 after Japan attacked AND Germany declared war.

              The only reason the US decided to sell us a large amount of arms was we passed decrypted information that Germany was encouraging Mexico to attack Texas.

              After WW2 you pretty quickly asked for your money back, and it wasn't until we said we would pull out of the likes of Italy and Greece that were heavily leaning to the far left and Communism did you crap yourselves.

              Only the USA came out of WW2 with far more money than went in.

              Then how about Korea, Vietnam and the two gulf wars which we helped you out in? The US was at no risk of attack but many European states still came to your aid.

              The reason the US maintains large armies overseas is for their benefit. A convenient place to project their power abroad.

              All that said, I agree that without the US help after WW2, an large area of Europe would of fallen under communism and many do appreciate it, but that was a long time ago.

              The US (as a nation) used to claim it was the land of the free and tried to be a example to.the world, but unfortunately, it has become to look like a cesspit of corruption and incompetence.

              1. ST Silver badge
                FAIL

                Re: I submitted my comment

                > The US ONLY entered WW2 after Japan attacked AND Germany declared war.

                No. Covert - and not-so-covert - US support for the UK war effort started in September 1940. That was after Joe Kennedy - US Ambassador to the UK - alerted the FDR Administration about the danger presented by the German aggression in Europe, combined with the presumed effects of the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact, which was still in effect at the time.

                It wasn't just the Lend-Lease program - which came about later, in 1941. It was military hardware support as well. The Destroyers For Bases Agreement was signed on September 2, 1940, whereby 50 US Navy Destroyers were transferred to the Royal Navy, together with a giant cache of munitions and other military hardware, in exchange for land and operations rights on British territories. The US was interested in these territories for conducting covert preparations for entering WWII.

                There is no validity to the claim that Hitler ever considered attacking the continental US. Hitler, for one, was convinced that we, Americans, can't fight a war, because we have too many black people. In his mind, attacking the US and its genetically inferior population was not worth the effort.

                His top brass - specifically Albert Speer - were fully aware of the impracticality and impossibility of such an attack. Germany simply did not have sufficient hardware, nor did it have the ability to produce sufficient hardware, to support a sea-based invasion of the US.

                But you would have had to learn some history to know that. You probably got your WWII history information about Germany attacking Texas from Facebook.

                You only have to glance for 5 minutes at the map of Texas and the Gulf of Mexico to realize that no Kriegsmarine admiral would ever conceive or plan such an attack. It is a death trap for the attacker.

                I can't be bothered to correct, or refute, every other display of crass ignorance in your post.

            4. the Jim bloke Silver badge
              Big Brother

              Re: I submitted my comment

              the US never practiced fascism as a political system

              Which is why the evil clown is doing so badly.

              Lack of practice.

              Give Let him take a few more years of ruining the country, and he will be so much better at it.

              Better than anyone else ever.

    4. teknopaul Silver badge

      Re: I submitted my comment

      Honestly mate, how long have you been living in a world of targeted subliminal marketing.

      They dont want your answers: they want you to read the questions.

  5. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    I don't even see an option to make a comment.

    So I haven't entered one yet.

    In general, I am OK with the use of drones to survey the crowds at a demonstration. Police use helicopters for this all the time, and that is not qualitatively different than using a drone. And having some aerial observation can help in IDing if parts of the demonstration spin off from the main group and start to riot or attack police.

    HOWEVER, given the current loaded situation around law enforcement abuse of its authority, it would really be best if ALL levels of government were more transparent about what aerial assets they will be using during demonstrations, what they are using them for, and how long the data will be retained. It is incumbent on Black Lives Matter demonstrators to remain peaceful, and incumbent on local, state and federal law enforcement to not be seen as running keeping records or enabling the harassment of people who are only pursuing their First Amendment right to peaceably assemble. Trust needs to be built in both directions.

    (Black helicopter, because you know why.)

    1. iron Silver badge

      Re: I don't even see an option to make a comment.

      > Police use helicopters for this all the time, and that is not qualitatively different than using a drone

      I disagree. A drone operator is looking at a screen, possibly dozens of miles away giving them a detachment from the human situation unfolding below the drone that a helicopter pilot may not feel. I imagine its easier to push the fire button when looking at a screen, after all many of us do it every night while playing CoD / Fortnite / Doom.

      1. Marketing Hack Silver badge

        Re: I don't even see an option to make a comment.

        People aren't going to be launching Hellfire missiles into the middle of a demonstration, or even a riot. I don't know where this idea came from that these drones or helicopters are even armed.

        1. Sherrie Ludwig
          Mushroom

          Re: I don't even see an option to make a comment.

          "People aren't going to be launching Hellfire missles into the middle of a demonstration, or even a riot. I don't know where this idea came from...."

          Too late. Already done. https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2015/05/13/406243272/im-from-philly-30-years-later-im-still-trying-to-make-sense-of-the-move-bombing

          1. JCitizen Bronze badge
            Unhappy

            Re: I don't even see an option to make a comment.

            @Sherrie Ludwig -

            I had forgot about that one - good point. I'd like to think no one would get away with that now days. When you see city leaders being put on the hot plate in the 21st century.

      2. Sherrie Ludwig

        Re: I don't even see an option to make a comment.

        A drone operator is looking at a screen, possibly dozens of miles away giving them a detachment from the human situation unfolding below the drone that a helicopter pilot may not feel. I imagine its easier to push the fire button when looking at a screen, after all many of us do it every night while playing CoD / Fortnite / Doom.

        Ender's Game.

      3. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: I don't even see an option to make a comment.

        > Police use helicopters for this all the time, and that is not qualitatively different than using a drone

        In addition, helicopters are considerably more expensive to operate than drones. Which means that there are fewer helicopters available, and they will be used far more selectively - only for events where it is deemed such surveillance is highly likely to yield significant information.

        How many Internet searches do you make each month? How many do you think you would make if you had to pay £10 per search? The easier & cheaper something is, the more likely that it will be used unnecessarily or inappropriately.

      4. ThatOne Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: I don't even see an option to make a comment.

        > nothing says freedom like a Predator circling overhead

        Nothing says "freedom" like a stern look from a missile-toting Predator drone of sinister reputation. Remember, it's the Land of the Free, as in "feel free to do exactly as I say", and from time to time they have to show the "or else" around, lest they be thought of as joking.

      5. joesomeone

        Re: I don't even see an option to make a comment.

        > A drone operator is looking at a screen, possibly dozens of miles away giving them a detachment from the human situation unfolding below the drone that a helicopter pilot may not feel.

        Not dozens of miles away. Hundreds or thousands of miles away in some cases - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creech_Air_Force_Base.

        In this particular article, the drone took off from North Dakota (Grand Forks Air Force). I don't know where CBP houses their "pilots", but given that it flew from the "top-left corner" of ND to Minneapolis, MN, it flew at least hundreds of miles to or from its pilot (unless it was some perfect triangle between the start, flyover and pilot)

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: I don't even see an option to make a comment.

          I'm guessing the pilots were at that base as well, but no guarantees. It appears the distance between these places is 438 km, (272 miles), but the distance can be much greater.

  6. joesomeone

    I am reminded...

    Of a Jim Jefferies quote from his comedy show Bare regarding the second amendment...

    "See, the one thing that I do really agree with with the right to bear arms, I really agree with… That the real reason it was written was so that you could form a militia to fight against a tyrannical government. In case the government became a bunch of cunts, you could all get your guns and fight back, and that’s why it was written. – [Audience cheering] – Yeah! And that made a hell of a lot of sense when it was just muskets. But you do know the government has drones, right? You get that? You’re bringing guns to a drone fight!"

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: I am reminded...

      There's more than drones now. There's armored vehicles, assorted medium to heavy arms, etc.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: I am reminded...

        Not allowing the police to buy military equipment from the DoD would be the first step. That law which allows them to do that and sky-high funding means the police get all the toys and even less training on the consequences of using them than your average grunt.

        1. joesomeone

          Re: I am reminded...

          Technically the third step. The first step discontinued those sales in 2015, only to be rescinded by that raspberry sized AG Jeff Sessions in 2017.

    2. Cynic_999 Silver badge

      Re: I am reminded...

      Well - drones that are big enough to carry a kg or so of explosives are available to the general public at very affordable prices, so if the government started using drones to attack the public, the public could do the same in return. I doubt that many government buildings or military sites are adequately protected against a few bomb-carrying quadcopters - which can be either remotely controlled or pre-programmed to fly to the target.

  7. BebopWeBop Silver badge
    Devil

    Step 2: Arm them

    Step 3: Make them autonomous

    1. You aint sin me, roit
      Black Helicopters

      Step 4: Plug in Skynet and deploy ground forces

      When Arnie turns up you know you're in trouble.

      Or are we now in a Robocop dystopia?

      Or is it Judge Dread... "I am the law, citizen, so don't struggle while I kneel on your neck".

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    understand the public perception

    you want public perception?! I'll give you public perception: flying drones over US cities - baaaaad! Flying drones over cities that can't shoot them down - goooood!

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    SO... the drones will become Skynet/Terminator... and the surveillance

    is totally reminiscent of the opening scenes Running Man...

  10. Eli...

    Time to make up your minds... are we watching prequel Skynet from Terminator stuff,

    or are we watching prequel 'Butcher of Bakersfield' from Running Man stuff?

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Time to make up your minds... are we watching prequel Skynet from Terminator stuff,

      Yes!

  11. Drew Scriver Silver badge

    Flying body cams?

    In light of the propensity of some police officers to abuse their authority, maybe it's time to outfit them with drones they must deploy before even getting out of their vehicle.

    Although, they'll probably 'forget' to activate the drone occasionally.

    For the record, I am a Euro-American. But I'm still concerned about policy abusing their power against me. That's partly based on personal experience with inept, under-trained, power-hungry officers and partly based on experiences other people have shared.

  12. mrobaer

    Domestic Terrorism Surveillance ?

    I suspect the Predator drones are flying around to provide intel on some of the bad actors in this mess. There are anarchists attaching themselves to the Black Lives Matter protests. These people are inciting violence, riots, and looting. Some of it has been captured on, you guessed it, cell phone video. In several cases, the peaceful protesters have taken a stand and stopped these bad actors, exposing them before they are chased away. Kudos to them! I worry though, that the current administration, in it's private war on ANTIFA, will use this for the impending overreach that governments are known for.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So, what help is a predator at 20,000 feet in a situation like the Minneapolis protests?

    Drone pilot: sir, large crowd sighted at 27th and Lake St.

    Commander: no shit, we have a dozen security cameras, a hundred cops, and a WCCO news crew that show the same thing.

    Some comments suggest intimidation... will you even notice a Predator at that altitude?

  14. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Too expensive

    If it were just about tracking "protestors", using big military drones would be too much. They were brought into the picture due to riots, looting and wholesale vandalism, not for tracking people chanting pithy sayings and blocking streets. When government vehicles are destroyed along with government buildings, money has be to spent to replace and repair which means less money left for politicians to use on pork projects that bring them more votes. They aren't going to get people to vote for them because they approved funds to buy a few dozen new police cruisers.

    Another factor in bringing in drones is the high res surveillance they bring. If it's suspected that people like George Soros or terrorist outfits are fomenting the problems, key people my be able to be spotted in the crowds. Little miss new graduate with a degree in XXXXX Studies that wants to change the world and goes out to join the protest is of no interest.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wait

    Am I the only one that sees sensationalism?

    Over the past few weeks, protests and marches have been held, mostly peacefully, in nearly every major city in America against systemic racism, police brutality, and the disproportional targeting of people of color.

    ***In response, officers flew off the handle and attacked citizens exercising their right to protest, and shot at journalists covering the unrest. ***

    Now a number of police departments face defunding and disbanding amid stinging criticism.

    In the context given, this sounds like it happened in "nearly every major city". I'll admit I've become desensitized to the demonstrations, have I missed more police brutality? (Mr. Floyd should NOT have died that day, there are bad people, regardless of skin color, and America and Americans have done terrible things in the course of history... Along with Germans, Britons, Africans, pick your nationality. Oh, and not all cops are bad but certainly brutality is real.)

    Anyways, in how many cities did officers fly off the handle and attack citizens, shooting at people?

  16. Danny 2 Silver badge

    Nuisance policing

    While the UK police don't have US levels of militarisation they share their politicalisation. One addendum though is overuse and misuse of helicopters and drones.

    One example, I have many. When Blair was summoned to the Chilcot inquiry there was a police helicopter nearby to monitor the peaceful and calm demonstration outside. Which arguably is fine, albeit overkill/overspend given the large numbers of officers on the ground. One of the speakers started reading out a long list of names of dead Iraqi civilians and dead British service personnel, which was quite moving. At that point the helicopter was ordered to hover low over the stage simply to drown out the speaker. That was both disrespectful to the dead, and needlessly dangerous to the crowd. If anything it seemed designed to inflame violence.

    The Cluatha disaster in Glasgow proves the police can't be trusted with helicopters except in extremis. I'd be sanguine with small plastic cam drones that wouldn't injure you if they fell, but a Predator is just robocop bs.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nuisance policing

      Mayor Boris Johnson bought water cannon for police use in London. Then he found that the law didn't allow it and they were eventually sold for scrap.

      Now he is PM he is showing a Trumpian propensity to bypass any laws that would stop him doing whatever he wants.

  17. DerekCurrie
    Devil

    A Sickness

    This Is Not America

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