Texas buys military grade UAVs for police use.
I have a love hate relationship with UAVs. They are an amazing tool in the hands of the military, particularly when employed against forces that lack sophisticated knowledge of high end electronics and programming.
But even enemy forces in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere have made strides in interfering with the operations of drones. Most notably a $28 dollar hack that let insurgents pull the feeds that were being sent unencrypted and allowing them to redeploy their forces out of danger before friendly forces could act. We have seen Narco-cartels, hackers, scientists and private citizens use drones for their own purposes. It was just a matter of time that the police would eventually use some.
In Texas, police have begun to acquire Shadowhawk drones initially for the laudable purpose of searching for missing persons. The quarter million dollar tool is being sold without the military grade weaponry. But as, The Blaze, points out, the drone may one day be employing an attachable 40mm grenade launcher (like those of the rifle mounted M203 and belt fed Mk-19) to employ less than lethal munitions including riot gas.
In my opinion, overhead surveillance is a breach of personal privacy and while appropriate on a battlefield, it becomes more dubious when used in policing. However, law enforcement has been using overhead surveillance for years in the visible spectrum and beyond. This will only be another method.
What we will soon experience is the hacking of such drones. The police will unlikely be able to afford to encrypt their drones’ command stream with the efficacy of the military, nor be able to employ the amount of support personnel that the military does. Once employed over one of the most technologically advanced civilizations in the world, it will only be a matter of time before some police agency loses control of its drone. And those methods will be watched by non American actors. Our world is constantly evolving, and as conflict moves more and more onto digital battlefields and robotic warriors that very technology is now the modern equivalent of the sword. Like swords, these weapons have two edges.