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March 5, 2012 9:51 PM   Subscribe

"Police Drone Crashes Into Police" (Gizmodo link)

Bonus (a few years old): "How the feds fueled the militarization of police"

Super mega-bonus: Google search for "militarization of police"
posted by bardic (53 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
It really doesn't get better than this. Thank you, reality.
posted by leotrotsky at 9:54 PM on March 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


"Please put down your weapon. You have 20 seconds to comply."
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:59 PM on March 5, 2012 [27 favorites]


It's funny cause it's true!
posted by sendai sleep master at 9:59 PM on March 5, 2012


It actually happened last September.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:00 PM on March 5, 2012


Ah, high comedy to end my Tuesday.

$300K? What a ripoff. There are some awesome models that cost about $3K.

Some douche sherriff in Montgomery County is driving around in a new sports car.

Serious question: why does a small-time county sherriff's department even have a SWAT team? Is it actually necessary? Or this is just more nonsense like nutbag Sherriff Arpaio's tank?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:07 PM on March 5, 2012


Oh come on, it's not nice to laugh at tragedy. The line officers it crashed into weren't the ones who decided to spend $300k on a drone. They didn't even--what's that? Nobody was hurt? Oh thanks be praised, I thought I was gonna have a hernia holding this inBWAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
posted by I've a Horse Outside at 10:08 PM on March 5, 2012 [7 favorites]


> Serious question: why does a small-time county sherriff's department even have a SWAT team? Is it actually necessary?

Montgomery County is home to a number of bedroom communities north of Houston, so there's a pretty decent tax base there. They're also beneficiaries of federal DHS dollars like any other PD in the USA. There are all sorts of "good" reasons for them to have a military force, so they say. School shooters, hostage situations, boogeymen, etc. Whether or not it's a great idea to have these guys playing dress up with dangerous toys is another thing.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:10 PM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


It pretty much writes itself doesn't it?
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 10:38 PM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Fucking para-military law enforcement fucking bozos. These fucking drones are going to be raining from the sky one day. My gang and I are preparing. We have sling shots and crossbows and signal jammers and model rockets.

We're coming for you para-bozos.
posted by Skygazer at 10:40 PM on March 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


They should make the UAVs bigger and put trained professionals in them to make sure that software bugs cannot cause similar automated havoc in the future. They could even call them something cool like air fortresses or freedom birds or something.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 10:44 PM on March 5, 2012 [13 favorites]


More to come!
posted by Defenestrator at 11:18 PM on March 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well, they've certainly done their best to sensationalize an incredibly minor incident haven't they?
posted by markr at 11:41 PM on March 5, 2012


This is gonna be the real issue with drones.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:24 AM on March 6, 2012


"Well, they've certainly done drone their best to sensationalize an incredibly minor incident bearcat haven't they?"

FTFY... sorry. I'll leave now...
posted by greenhornet at 12:35 AM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


ROFLCOPTER!!!!!!!!!!
posted by titus-g at 12:35 AM on March 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


It pretty much writes itself doesn't it?

Not really. At its core it's just a demonstration of the law of demos.

You've got to come in with your own angle to make a prototype crashing into social commentary.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 12:45 AM on March 6, 2012


Here's the actual article, pre-gizmodoized.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 12:48 AM on March 6, 2012


If the drones towed around advertising banners they could pay for themselves.
posted by Flashman at 3:55 AM on March 6, 2012


Another "drone" accident.
posted by iviken at 4:33 AM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is gonna be the real issue with drones.

Because, of course, manned helicopters never, ever crash.

Police drones actually make a lot of financial sense. Even if 300K sound like a lot of money, it's about the same price as a Robinson R22, which is the cheapest chopper you can get, before you add any of the expensive equipment of a police helicopter (cameras, floodlight, radios...) and the drone, being smaller, will burn a lot less fuel. Drones can do much of the day-to-day work of police helicopters for a fraction of the cost.

This said, the combination of boys' toys in this particular piece of news (drone, armoured vehicle + plenty of firepower) does not appear to indicate that this particular PD is particularly concerned about cost.
posted by Skeptic at 4:55 AM on March 6, 2012


Skeptic, that only makes sense if you take for granted that the police need a helicopter.
posted by stevis23 at 4:59 AM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


stevis23, that only makes sense if you take for granted that you need the police...
posted by Skeptic at 5:19 AM on March 6, 2012


Now it's a bearcardrone.

What shall we add next? Donuts!
posted by CautionToTheWind at 5:33 AM on March 6, 2012


Ok, let's try to be reasonable. Obviously we need a police force, as most of us deem anarchy unacceptable. It also seems obvious to me that many jurisdictions would have legitimate uses for airborne coverage, such as large ones with significant traffic volumes.

But we were specifically talking about the increasingly paramilitary nature of local forces. The place I was raised doesn't have a helicopter, to my knowledge, and certainly doesn't need one. But, given the recent climate, I could see them convincing someone to fork over 300k for a drone if they tweaked the grant process right. And for what purpose? I see the parallels here to "does rural jurisdiction really need a SWAT team" and "does Sheriff Joe really need a tank." And that's the issue I was trying to raise with my admittedly pithy remark.
posted by stevis23 at 5:39 AM on March 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Serious question: why does a small-time county sherriff's department even have a SWAT team?

The War on Terror.

You've got a %age of the people who were trained to handle guns and kill for the War on Terror who decide to go into law enforcement. (Rather than policing the attitude changes to US vs THEM)

Then you have a pile of Fed money you can get if you make a pitch to FedGov that you need it to fight your own local War on Terror. (The whole 'justify my job' angle.)

Then after getting your pile of expensive Kiss-Kiss Bang-Bang toys you need to justify it otherwise people point out how much you are spending VS the seeming lack of actual need.

Over on John Robb's GG you'll note the idea of what the cheap drones are going to get citizens all over the world - hope you all enjoy the armed Panoptocon. Or what Holder is arguing.
posted by rough ashlar at 5:41 AM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Serious question: why does a small-time county sherriff's department even have a SWAT team?

Meth?
posted by desjardins at 5:45 AM on March 6, 2012


Meth?

Damn powerful argument to stop using Meth. You'll go broke on the 300K drones.
posted by rough ashlar at 5:48 AM on March 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


stevis23 I think that a police helicopter or drone has many more genuine police uses than, say, an armoured vehicle: apart from airborne traffic and crime patrols, police helicopters and even drones can support emergency services in search and rescue missions, for instance. It doesn't necessarily mean "militarisation" of the police, and it must be noted that even not-particularly-gun-happy police forces make use of helicopters.
posted by Skeptic at 6:14 AM on March 6, 2012


if you take for granted that the police need a helicopter

Police helicopters largely avoid the need for dangerous high-speed car chases. I'm sure that has saved a lot of lives over the years. Drones could fill that role if the price and technology are right. The problem, as always with new technology, is not that the device itself is evil, but that we must find ways to curb the tendency to use it in an evil way. Cheaper airborne surveillance may mean more airborne intrusion, if there is an insufficient framework of rules and monitoring to curtail it. How then do we go about making sure such a framework is in place?
posted by howfar at 6:15 AM on March 6, 2012


howfar: "Police helicopters largely avoid the need for dangerous high-speed car chases. I'm sure that has saved a lot of lives over the years. Drones could fill that role if the price and technology are right. The problem, as always with new technology, is not that the device itself is evil, but that we must find ways to curb the tendency to use it in an evil way. Cheaper airborne surveillance may mean more airborne intrusion, if there is an insufficient framework of rules and monitoring to curtail it. How then do we go about making sure such a framework is in place?"

I doubt that Texas has such a progressive framework, not that they need it. Those who have nothing to hide have nothing to fear.
posted by double block and bleed at 6:20 AM on March 6, 2012


Not all of us are driving around in Bearcats.

What's this called? Begging the answer? Bearcats for all!
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:29 AM on March 6, 2012


Those who have nothing to hide have nothing to fear.

And if that is the position then that is the problem. Focusing on the technology used by authoritarianism isn't a particularly effective way to mount an assault on authoritarianism itself. It concerns me if authoritarian police officers have access to drone technology, but really, I am much more concerned that such people are routinely armed with guns and given (albeit limited) licence to use their weapons to injury or kill other citizens. The police are already far too powerful to be allowed such authoritarian leanings.
posted by howfar at 6:32 AM on March 6, 2012


Wait till you try to sue them to recover medical and property damages after one of these bitches crashes through your living room.
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:39 AM on March 6, 2012


Ok, let's try to be reasonable. Obviously we need a police force, as most of us deem anarchy unacceptable.

Let's take a vote. All in favor of anarchy say aye.

Wait a second...
posted by swift at 6:43 AM on March 6, 2012


What's the German word for taking pleasure in the suffering of others that will probably soon be suffered upon yourself soon enough because that's just what things are like now? Schadenfreudezeitgeistdoppelgänger?
posted by gwint at 6:54 AM on March 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Those who have nothing to hide have nothing to fear.

I wonder how many of these police feel that way when photographed or caught on video, or people who keep tossing this out there. I also find it odd that at a photo op that there isn't any video or photos of this happening. (not conspiracy theory here.) Probably due to the fact that the people recording it were friends of the cops, not wanting to spread bad press. Me, i'd be trying to keep my camera steady while laughing my ass off trying to get it.

I also find it funny how many "small government" right wing types have no problem spending on stuff like this, but if someone said "$300,000 for a library program for the poor." they'd be freaking out big time.
posted by usagizero at 6:54 AM on March 6, 2012 [8 favorites]


Damn, I predicted it was going to crash into a mesquite tree.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 7:03 AM on March 6, 2012


I think drones are at their scariest while they are exclusive. When they're ubiquitous, our privacy will be universally gone, but at least we'll have Google Maps RealTime. There are a lot of really interesting things you can do with a constant overhead sensory presence though, ranging from locating houses which are poorly insulated in the winter to turning off streetlights when there are no people nearby. Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure anything beyond FLIR and some sort of long range taser/tear-gas-dispenser will be "socialism." Taser already has a shotgun shell version, they just need to scale it up. Pure profit!
posted by feloniousmonk at 7:15 AM on March 6, 2012


Delighted, absolutely delighted to hear this. It just so happens that two days ago I bought an actual physical newspaper, which I do about, oh, once a month or so. The Japan Times, it was. Read a big article in there about the new era of drones in the US, and the enormous photo that accompanied the article featured none other than two members of the Montgomery County SWAT team, all geared up like some soldier in Afghanistan, standing in front of their armored vehicle, brandishing their badass automatic weapons, and in the foreground was, of course, their drone. I felt sick looking at that photo. Truly disgusting. And I'm just happy as all fuck that it crashed into that little tank of theirs.

Unfortunately, this is not gonna stop the Police State. That shit is underway.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:00 AM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Boys playing soldier.
posted by Evernix at 8:36 AM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


CautionToTheWind, I think you mean "dronuts".
posted by kengraham at 8:38 AM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


OK, break time in police state serious talk: I told myself I'd totally sign up to become a cop if there ever was a mechanized police force with the emphasis is on "mecha". Then again I was, like, 10-11 when I was watching Patlabor. WE'RE AT LEAST 10 YEARS BEHIND SCHEDULE WTF.
posted by kkokkodalk at 8:52 AM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


> Boys playing soldier.

Well, to be fair to SWAT teams, most of their members have already put in several years as regular patrol and were accepted to the SWAT team after an approval process, so most of them are in their early-mid thirties. No doubt a good percentage of them are ex-military as well.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:07 AM on March 6, 2012


^ So, man-children playing soldier.
posted by jabberjaw at 9:14 AM on March 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


OK, break time in police state serious talk: I told myself I'd totally sign up to become a cop if there ever was a mechanized police force with the emphasis is on "mecha". Then again I was, like, 10-11 when I was watching Patlabor. WE'RE AT LEAST 10 YEARS BEHIND SCHEDULE WTF.

Nah, we're right on track. The world of Patlabor was always supposed to be "about ten years from now", and let's see: global warming, police militarization, robots, terrorists, large-scale disasters... nowadays Patlabor is more "ten years from now" than it ever was in the late 80s/early 90s!
posted by vorfeed at 10:53 AM on March 6, 2012


Super mega-bonus: Google search for "militarization of police"

Interesting difference, but I don't know what it means (if anything):

http://www.google.co.kr: 4,290,000 hits (from link provided)
https://www.google.ca: 1,770,000 hits

Is the problem more acute in Korea? Is something being concealed in Canada?
posted by fredludd at 1:02 PM on March 6, 2012


I was going to say that there is no such animal as a bearcat, but then I googled it, and I am sad to learn that it does not look like a cat with a bear head. But I am happy to learn that there was a short-lived 1971 TV show called Bearcats! wherein the protagonists drove around in a 1914 Stutz Bearcat. (The titular exclamation point makes it sound so exciting.)

Bearcat bearcat bearcat.
posted by compartment at 5:38 PM on March 6, 2012


Yo, on a more serious note, also check this, where we will be collectively depressed to learn that the lawyers discussing privacy implications of drones are still cracking lame jokes about Al Gore inventing the internet.
posted by compartment at 5:49 PM on March 6, 2012


The cost of America’s police state: Hundreds of billions have been spent to militarize our nation against a terrorism threat that barely exists
posted by homunculus at 6:57 PM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


They should make the UAVs bigger and put trained professionals in them to make sure that software bugs cannot cause similar automated havoc in the future. They could even call them something cool like air fortresses or freedom birds or something.

Here to suggest "Monkeyhawks".
posted by ifthe21stcentury at 9:51 PM on March 6, 2012


What's the German word for taking pleasure in the suffering of others that will probably soon be suffered upon yourself.....?

Schadenblowback.
posted by benito.strauss at 3:22 PM on March 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Schadenblowback.

Holy fuck that's brilliant! And terrifying. I must use that word soon, I MUST!!* It is the perfect encapsulation and articulation of our sick ludicrous cowardly era. An era that must end. Immediately.

We must refuse to be the willing guinea pigs in this Law Enforcement Complex haywire dystopia that has been unleashed on the world. It is sick with fear and paranoia and cowardice and myopia! We must raise up as a people, and say to this monstrous new Franken-complex intel-ocracy with one voice, we must say to it with vigor:

SHADEN-BLOWME PARAMILITARY PEPPER SPRAY USING RC HOBBYIST ASSAULT RIFLE BRANDISHING TASER DICK-ED CRAP BAGS!!


*I will credit you Benito S.

There will be dogfights in the sky above cities when my RC air squadron arms it's model airplanes...we are coming for you black armor suited para-hobbyists!!

posted by Skygazer at 6:03 PM on March 7, 2012


Drones, Dogs, & The Future of Privacy
posted by homunculus at 2:51 PM on March 8, 2012


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