Here’s the drone the county sheriff wants to fly over your backyard
OAKLAND, CA—The Alameda County Sheriff’s Department made its first public pitch on Thursday to the county’s Board of Supervisors (PDF) to authorize the purchase of “one to two drones,” coming from a $31,000 state grant.
If eventually approved, the county agency would become the first law enforcement agency in California to deploy a drone. The board did not vote on the item. Coincidentally, the hearing was on the same day that two members of Congress introduced legislation that would regulate the domestic use of drones.
Last week, the City of Seattle canceled its own drone program due to public outcry.
Here, dozens of local citizens came out to voice their opposition to the proposed drone purchase, citing privacy concerns. Many wore bright pink “NO DRONES” stickers on their shirts and jackets.
“I think it’s important to know about the larger context that we’re now hearing, that’s the militarization of law enforcement that is progressing at a breakneck pace,” said Susan Harmon of Code Pink, an anti-war group.
The tiny drone, which was displayed at the hearing and fits disassembled into a small suitcase, can fly for up to 24 minutes at a height of 400 feet and only has a maximum radius of a quarter-mile from the operator. Alameda County Sheriff Gregory Ahearn argued that the drones will be used primarily for search and rescue operations.