Texas http://www.occupytogether.com/forum/categories/texas/feed.rss Mon, 22 Sep 14 08:12:09 -0600 Texas en-CA Plano, TX http://www.occupytogether.com/forum/discussion/1573/plano-tx Tue, 22 Nov 2011 13:51:14 -0700 MundusVultDecipi 1573@/forum/discussions http://www.meetup.com/North-DFW-99-Percent-Occupy-movement/]]> Austin, TX http://www.occupytogether.com/forum/discussion/189/austin-tx Tue, 04 Oct 2011 13:30:51 -0600 HoneyJ 189@/forum/discussions Texas Civil Libertarians Oppose Law Enforcement Drones http://www.occupytogether.com/forum/discussion/1090/texas-civil-libertarians-oppose-law-enforcement-drones Mon, 31 Oct 2011 17:12:44 -0600 MundusVultDecipi 1090@/forum/discussions http://blog.chron.com/newswatch/2011/10/texas-civil-libertarians-oppose-law-enforcement-drones/

As the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office gears up to employ an unmanned helicopter to hunt criminals and find missing persons, a civil liberties advocate said drones can hurt more than they help.

Chief Deputy Randy McDaniel of the sheriff’s office said the $300,000 ShadowHawk drone — purchased from Vanguard Defense Industries — will take to the skies in the coming months to provide another tool in the law-enforcement arsenal.

“It’s an exciting piece of equipment for us,” he said. “We envision a lot of its uses primarily in the realm of public safety — looking at recovery of lost individuals and being able to utilize it for fire(fighting) issues.”

It also could be used, he said, to provide surveillance for officers serving a warrant at a specific location. It would not, however, be used to track suspects’ vehicles. McDaniel said that manned helicopters would continue to be used for that purpose.

Kirsten Bokenkamp, spokeswoman for the Houston-based American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, said the drones raise concerns because there are not enough safeguards in place to protect citizens from unreasonable search and seizure.

“It’s just another example of technology that is outstripping our lives,” she said. “What we mean by that, is the technology moves so quickly and the interpretations of the Fourth Amendment are failing to keep up with the technology. That brings privacy concerns.”

“Further,” Bokenkamp said, “the use of drones kind of takes the place of good old-fashioned detective work and it allows for a more pervasive surveillance than we’ve been accustomed to or that we know about.”

McDaniel disagreed, saying the 50-pound drone is an extension of the aerial resources currently available to law-enforcement agencies – manned helicopters from the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Texas Department of Public Safety, and the Houston Police Department.

“This is nothing new,” he said. “This is merely a more cost-effective manner of using air resources. It’s nothing more than what’s already available.”

The unmanned craft will be controlled by a pilot using a laptop with a game-like console, and it comes equipped with a powerful camera and heat-seeking device mounted on the front.

In the future, the drone could be equipped to carry non-lethal weapons such Tasers or a bean-bag gun, McDaniel said. The drone was first reported on by KPRC-TV.

The Houston Police Department tested an unmanned drone over Waller County in 2007, but decided to scrap the plan, an HPD spokesman said.

“We don’t have one nor are we considering purchasing one,” HPD spokesman John Cannon said. “We decided at that time no agreement could be reached, and we did not make a purchase.”

Cannon declined to say why the plan was dropped.

robert.stanton@chron.com]]>