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Category Archives: Police Drones with weapon capabilities

‘Bomb Robot’ Takes Down Dallas Gunman, but Raises Enforcement Questions

The Dallas police ended a standoff with the gunman suspected of killing five officers with a tactic that by all accounts appears to be unprecedented: It blew him up using a robot.

In doing so, it sought to protect police who had negotiated with the man for several hours and had exchanged gunfire with him. But the decision ignited a debate about the increasing militarization of police and the remote-controlled use of force, and raised the specter of a new era of policing.

The Dallas police chief, David O. Brown, said officers had used one of the department’s “bomb robots,” attaching an explosive device to its arm that was detonated early Friday when the robot was near the gunman. “Other options would have exposed the officers to grave danger,” he said.

But the decision to deliver a bomb by robot stunned some current and former law enforcement officials, who said they believed the new tactic blurred the line between policing and warfare.

How the Dallas Shooting Unfolded

The attack was the deadliest against law enforcement officers in the United States since Sept. 11, 2001.

By YOUSUR AL-HLOU and JOHN WOO on Publish Date July 8, 2016. Photo by William Widmer for The New York Times. Watch in Times Video »

They said that it might have been an excessive use of force and that it set a precedent, adding that they were concerned that other departments across the country could begin using the same tactic.

“The further we remove the officer from the use of force and the consequences that come with it, the easier it becomes to use that tactic,” said Rick Nelson, a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a former counterterrorism official on the National Security Council. “It’s what we have done with drones in warfare.”

“In warfare, your object is to kill,” he added. “Law enforcement has a different mission.”

Other law enforcement officials supported the decision, suggesting they could take a similar approach if the situation called for it. At a news conference on Friday, New York’s police commissioner, William J. Bratton, said that while he was waiting to find out precisely what the Dallas police did, “we have that capability.”

“This is an individual that killed five police officers,” he added. “So God bless ’em.”

The use of the robot and explosive device comes amid questions about whether police departments, which have bought equipment from the Pentagon that was part of efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, have become too militarized. During the turmoil in Ferguson, Mo., two years ago, local law enforcement quelled protests with military-style equipment, angering many who said they felt intimidated. The Obama administration has declined to stop the Pentagon from selling the equipment, saying that a vast majority of it strengthens local policing.

While Chief Brown offered no additional information about the use of the robot, it appeared that officers had repurposed a remote-controlled bomb disposal vehicle that is normally used to inspect dangerous crime scenes or pick up suspected explosive devices for detonation or dismantling

The decision to use the robot in this way left many questions unanswered, including whether a sniper could have shot the gunman. Also, it was not clear why the police did not wait him out.

One expert in legal issues and robotics said he thought the use of the robot was justified, and saw little difference between its use and having a sniper shoot from a distance.

“No court would find a legal problem here,” said Ryan Calo, a professor at the University of Washington law school. “When someone is an ongoing lethal danger, there isn’t an obligation on the part of officers to put themselves in harm’s way.”

There are other significant issues that arise when using an explosive device, according to current and former law enforcement officials. Explosions can destroy property and cause fires.

One of the few instances in which a police force used explosives occurred in 1985, when Philadelphia officers bombed the headquarters of a self-styled black liberation group, Move. Eleven members of the group, including five children, were killed, and a fire spread through the neighborhood, destroying more than 60 homes.

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How the Attack on the Dallas Police Unfolded

Five officers were killed and seven others were shot during a protest in downtown Dallas.

OPEN Graphic

The Move explosives were dropped by helicopter. Using a police robot “has probably never been done before,” said Robert Louden, former chief hostage negotiator for the New York Police Department and a former professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

But bomb disposal robots have been used to deliver objects to suspects, hostages and others, or to distract or communicate with suspects.

Last year, a man with a knife who threatened to jump off a bridge in San Jose, Calif., was taken into custody after the police had a robot bring him a cellphone and a pizza as part of efforts to talk him down.

In November 2014, the Albuquerque police used a robot to “deploy chemical munitions,” in the words of a department report, in a motel room where a man had barricaded himself with a gun. He surrendered.

Mr. Louden said he did not think the Dallas police had planned to use the robot to deliver a bomb. Rather, he said, at a point where negotiations with the suspect broke down, the officers in charge had to decide what to do about it.

“Are we going to endanger an officer?” Mr. Louden said about the police officers’ thinking. “Or do we try something that’s a little bit unique, but in all probability withstands legal tests for justification of use of force?”

No Longer a Conspiracy Theory, First State Legalizes Weaponized Drones for Cops

North Dakota — Nothing says “police state” quite like unmanned aerial vehicles patrolling the sky ready to deploy 80,000 volts to the nearest protester or dose entire crowds with chemical weapons.

The idea of weaponized drones has long been a dystopian, yet fictional idea. However, thanks to House Bill 1328, in North Dakota, this police state hell from above is now a horrid reality.

Thanks to a police union lobbyist, the idea of police using drones for “less than lethal” weapons is now written into North Dakota law.

According to the Daily Beast,

The bill’s stated intent was to require police to obtain a search warrant from a judge in order to use a drone to search for criminal evidence. In fact, the original draft of Rep. Rick Becker’s bill would have banned all weapons on police drones.

Then Bruce Burkett of North Dakota Peace Officer’s Association was allowed by the state house committee to amend HB 1328 and limit the prohibition only to lethal weapons. “Less than lethal” weapons like rubber bullets, pepper spray, tear gas, sound cannons, and Tasers are therefore permitted on police drones.

The term “less than lethal” is thrown around to make tasers, which have been responsible for hundreds of deaths since 2001, seem like they are okay to be deployed on infants.

The reality is that “less than lethal” weapons are only slightly less lethal than the real thing. Now that these weapons will be put on drones, entire new safety concerns arise, such as accuracy and the simple issue of a drone falling into a crowd.

After being duped by the police lobby into passing a bill allowing cops to equip drones with weapons, Rep Becker is worried. He spoke up about police deploying these weapons when they aren’t near the intended target.

“When you’re not on the ground, and you’re making decisions, you’re sort of separate,” Becker said. “Depersonalized.”

One need only look at the Middle East and the thousands of innocent women and children who’ve been slaughtered by US drones to imagine the grim reality of such legislation.

Law enforcement and their union lobbyists are assuring lawmakers that drones would only be used in non-criminal situations, like a missing person case or for photographing crime scenes. This begs the question of why they would need such ominous legislation if they say they’ll never use it?

According to Keith Lund of the Grand Forks Regional Economic Development Corporation, laws like this one are to combat restrictions in drone development to create jobs.

North Dakota has been hit hard by the oil bust, and more drones equal more jobs.

“It’s really all about the commercial development, which is where all of this is heading,” Lund replied. “If [a law] is somehow limiting commercial, law enforcement development… that is a negative in terms of companies looking and investing in opportunities in the state of North Dakota,” Lund said, according to the Daily Beast.

It’s not only weapons attached to drones that are raising issues in the state either. Police and their lobbyists are putting up a big fight to allow the use of drones for spying without a warrant.

“Requiring a search warrant for surveillance is ‘restricting development?’” asked Rep. Gary Paur, a Republican, at a hearing.

It seems that corporate and state collusion, at the expense of the people’s liberties, doesn’t even have to happen behind closed doors anymore.

Get ready, because if we know anything about the military-industrial complex, it’s that it spreads like a virus. It is only a matter of time before other slimeball politicians sell out civil liberties to prop up “Big Drone.”