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Sheriff's Office Delays Drone Purchase After Concerns Raised

A committee will study the drone proposal.

From Bay City News:

A proposal to buy a drone for the Alameda County Sheriff's Office was sent to a committee for further study Tuesday after the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups raised objections.

Sheriff Greg Ahern has said that the drone, which he prefers to call an unmanned aerial system, tactical operations and for responding to disasters, fires and hazardous materials incidents.

But Will Matthews of the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California said the ACLU has obtained documents showing that sheriff's officials also plan to use the drone for surveillance and intelligence-gathering purposes.

The Alameda County Board of Supervisors was scheduled to vote Tuesday to accept a $31,646 grant to help pay for an unmanned aerial system but the matter was referred to their Public Protection Committee for a hearing in January so that there's more public input.

Matthews said, "To Sheriff Ahern's credit, he realized that it needs more discussion before it goes forward and asked that it be pulled from
the agenda."

Sheriff's spokesman Sgt. J.D. Nelson said Ahern will draft a policy to ensure that a drone wouldn't be used for random surveillance.

However, Nelson said the sheriff's office would like to use a drone for situations in which there is a barricaded suspect and other missions for which there would be a specific purpose instead of random snooping.

The $31,646 grant is part of a larger $1.2 million Department of Homeland Security grant to Alameda County dispersed through the California Emergency Management Agency.

Matthews said, "We believe that there should be a robust conversation about safeguards" before an aerial system is approved.

He said other groups who are concerned about the aerial system are the Electronic Frontier Foundation and a new local coalition called Alameda County Against Drones.

Punxnotdead December 06, 2012 at 05:43 PM
Don't want it...don't need it. Thanks ACLU again for protecting the citizens' right to privacy. EFF deserves kudos as well.
Julia December 06, 2012 at 08:38 PM
How about they use the money to get feet on the street in the higher crime areas and a patrol car parked on 4th street during commute times? I'm tired of dodging idiot drivers who use 4th street at highway speeds? Generate some revenue DURING HIGH USE COMMUTE HOURS and CATCH THE MORONS WHO SPEED ON 4th Street... it's a RESIDENTIAL AREA!
Mike S December 06, 2012 at 10:01 PM
Julia...the Alameda County Sheriff's Office is not responsible for enforcement of speed laws within city limits. Sounds like you have a beef with LPD.

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