Thursday, November 29, 2007

Domestic surveillance grows wings

By Libby

I've heard that the use of drones has become routine along the US-Mexico border, but thus far their use has been limited to the feds. That's about to change.
MIAMI -- The Miami-Dade police department will begin experimenting with high-tech drones as law enforcement tools beginning next year.

Although the military has been using unmanned aircraft systems for years, this will be the first time they are used in law enforcement.

The Miami cops say they'll be useful in SWAT raids but it's hard to see how they would be much better than helicopters for that sort of work. It's easy to imagine however, how useful they would be for widescale surveillance on innocent Americans. They're silent. Chances are you wouldn't notice if one was overhead and zeroing in whatever you're texting on your cell phone while you're waiting for the walk light to change.

On a somewhat related note, John Cole discovers the latest NYPD entrapment scheme. It seems they're leaving unattended purses and bags around in likely spots to be discovered and arresting anyone that picks them up and doesn't turn them in to the first available cop they see on the street.

This is their second try on this operation. They were only generating misdemeanor violations and after the courts were throwing out most of the cases on the basis that mere possession of a lost purse isn't a crime and that a person has ten days to return found property in NY, the cops are now salting the purses with useable credit cards. This ups the ante for good samaritans who may now be charged with felony theft if they get caught up in the net by deciding to return the items directly to the owners. Cole comes up with the perfect response to this dunderheaded program.

If you live in NYC, anything you find unattended should be handed to a policeman. Coke cans, empty McDonald’s bags- it doesn’t matter. It might have an American Express card in it.

Of course, then they're likely to arrest you for interfering with a police officer on duty. That's the really evil part of this entrapment party. I wouldn't ask a NYC cop for directions. Those guys are mean. [hat tip Kat]

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