Lately, remote control drones have been in the news a lot. Not just on a nation and international level, but also right here in Seattle.
President Obama has been in favor of utilizing unmanned drones to attack insurgents and Al Qaeda members who would do us harm. The big flap this week was that we used one to blow up an Al Qaeda leader who was born in the U.S. In other words, we used a weapon against an American citizen. Frankly, he lost any protection of being a citizen when he embraced an organization that considers the destruction of the U.S. as their Superbowl.
Now, closer to home, the federal government had given the city of Seattle some drones to experiment with, to see if we’d like to incorporate them into our law enforcement efforts. For some reason, Mike “Out there” McGinn and the Seattle police chief decided to scrap the test. Why? Because they can.
This after approving cameras along the Seattle waterfront. Oh, and those cameras at certain intersections, to catch the red-light runners.
I just don’t get it.
First off, they’re not armed. They’re used for surveillance. How many times have you heard the phrase, “There’s never a cop around when you need one!” This would allow them to have a bird’s eye view of the city. Bank robbery breaks out–get away car headed north on I-5? The drone’s going to get there a lot faster to pursue the bad guys than the police can through traffic, even with their sirens. If you live down in Los Angeles, a police helicopter flying over your house is a pretty common occurence. I’ve got to think that the cost of a copter and trained personnel is going to be a lot more than a remote-controlled drone.
The biggest critics of the drones appear to be the privacy pirates. The ones who are so concerned about police being able to go over our homes in the sky. Why is that? They might catch me barbecuing? See how many weeds have sprung up in the backyard? Turn me in because I’ve neglected to refill the bird feeder? As is often the case, the ones most concerned about their privacy are trying to protect getting caught from doing something illegal. If you’re not doing anything wrong, what are you worried about?
Do what I do on some of these issues and take it to the extreme. So, you’re not OK with a drone flying overhead. But you’re OK with a police helicopter? Or, we don’t allow those? OK, then we keep it on the ground and only allow police to patrol in their cars. Very inefficient and costly, but…..Oh, they shouldn’t be in cars, that’s not fair or also an invasion of your rights? OK, we’ll put them on foot patrol. Now, get into a situation that requires police help and let’s see how fast they can arrive on the scene.
Maybe it’s because I’ve known quite a few law enforcement folks over the years to realize that it’s not an “us versus them” situation. They ARE us. They’re Justin’s dad, or Bob’s wife, or the neighbor down the street. They’ve gone through training, they risk their lives every time they show up for work and because a few bad apples have lost it under pressure, we’re suppose to tie the hands behind all of them and then say, “OK, now do your job!”
The drones over our city would seriously help the efficiency and effectiveness of those charged with protecting us. I’m sorry to see grand-standing politicians get in the way of making their job safer and a little bit easier.