The Arlington Police Department in Texas is believed to be the largest urban police force in the nation to have FAA approval to operate two surveillance drones.
Police Chief Will Johnson announced Thursday the 58-inch, helicopter-style drones will take part in "numerous law enforcement missions," according to the Star-Telegram. The drones, capable of flying at speeds of up to 40 mph, will also be fitted with cameras. In late February, the Federal Aviation Administration approved the drones as ready for take-off, so to speak.
The drones will prowling "acts of terrorism or related criminal activity," the Star-Telegram reported. Cowboys Stadium, Rangers Ballpark and several other possible terrorist targets in Arlington were given as reasons for adding the drones to the police department.
A Texas training pamphlet on terrorism, for example, lists dozens of cues for potentially suspicious behavior. Among them are "being nice," using a GPS device, communicating primarily by cell phone, appearing to be "normal" and pretending to be a student, business person or tourist. Holding demonstrations and rallies or creating posters, websites and underground press publications are also considered possible terrorist activities.
Arlington Police pledged that the drones are exempt from routine patrols, traffic citations or police chases. Additionally, they say the drones will not be used to invade privacy or step on civil rights.
ut that is not enough to pacify everyone.
"You cannot use an unmanned aerial vehicle to do indiscriminate surveillance," Rep. Lance Gooden, R-Terrell, co-author of HB912, the Texas Privacy Act, told the Star-Telegram. "There are really legitimate uses but we don't want the government to be able to watch us at all times. We want to make sure privacy is protected."
Drones are hardly child's play or just a passing trend. There are already a reported 64 drone bases on American soil, along with plans to roll out as many as 30,000 of the unmanned aircraft by 2015.
He pointed out that Judge Andrew Napolitano of Fox News said: “This 16-page white paper is written so vaguely that the logic from it could… permit the President to kill Americans here in the United States.”
After reading the memo, Adams concluded it was obvious that "President Obama plans to use military drones in the skies over the United States to assassinate journalists, patriots and critics of his administration."
NBC News also reported the memo clearly allows the government to kill American citizens who are believed to be members "of al-Qaida or an associated force - even if there is no intelligence indicating they are engaged in an active plot to attack the U.S."