Alameda County Sheriff's Department wants to Obtain and Deploy Drones along with it's other Crime Fighting Tools to help better Serve the public at Large. The United States Military has been using Drones overseas for several years now and the idea of them over Cities within our own Territory isn't quite that New contrary to popular belief.
Private Citizens have been deploying Amateur Homebuilt Drones over their Jurisdictions for quite sometime now and there's even a very Active Community Online Dedicated to the Pursuit of such endeavors.
Police Departments in other States have already obtained Drones for use within their Official Duties, one such Agency is the Mesa County Sheriff Located in Colorado. Their Drone Program has been used for Investigations involving Fatal Motor Vehicle Accidents, Fire Scene Assistance, and Suspect Apprehension according to their Unmanned Aerial System Team Page Located here.
Alameda County Sheriff Greg Ahern has proposed obtaining a Drone which will be outfitted with Thermal Imaging and this has sparked outrage in Oakland, California where a group calling themselves ACAD have decided to throw down the gauntlet in opposition to Sheriff Aherns plan to obtain a drone.
ACAD or Alameda County Against Drones is a Coalition comprised of Occupy Oakland Members and others that think it's a Waste of Money considering that Police already have K-9 Patrols, Helicopters, and SWAT. They have started a petition on change.org and at Time of this Posting already have 225 Signatures Opposing the Plan.
I looked at some of these Signatures and am wondering why the Opinion of those who aren't even Residents of Alameda County, much less Citizens of our State matter? After all, they aren't Alameda County Tax Payers and certainly aren't directly Impacted by this Plan. Anyhow...
Part of the Privacy issue seems to Stem from the Fact that Sheriff Ahern wants a Drone specifically outfitted with an Infrared Camera which ACAD believes will be used to Violate Regular Citizen's Privacy by spying on them at will. I should point out there's already Police Helicopters especially those deployed by CHP which have such a Capability.
The difference between Drones and Helicopters is that it will cost the Agencies much less Money to Maintain & Operate.
Doesn't take a Rocket Scientist to figure out why ACAD opposes it, after all Oakland Police in the recent past have Openly Targeted ACAD Members on numerous Occasions as a result of their involvement in the Occupy Movement. All you have to do is watch one of their "Actions" or Rallies to understand their point of view. AKA Hatred toward the Police.
The type of Drone the Sheriff would like to get is similar to an R/C Flying Helicopter, except it's got a Camera on board with other features and will be capable of carrying Non Lethal Weapons.
Let's keep in mind here that Drones just like Cameras are perfectly Legal in Public Places and that those who are in Opposition of this Plan have no Evidence Suggesting that Police will use the Capability for Infringing on peoples Privacy I.E peeking thru Private Property at Random.
As an Amateur Drone Builder myself, I find this whole thing Ludicrous and am Irked that these people (Occupy Oakland Members) would take it upon themselves to speak for an Entire County when those of them who live here are in one Community. What about the other 13 Incorporated , 6 Unincorporated Communities?
I know one thing for sure.
Whether our County gets a Drone or not it won't stop me from Flying my own when I want, where I want! Say Whens the next Rally? Wink, wink.