The first community meeting seeking public opinion on the department's plans to use unmanned aerial systems, or drones, for law enforcement was taken over by protesters who prevented McDonagh from talking for more than half of the two-hour meeting.Some days I really do love this town.
The meeting, held at the Garfield Community Center, was attended by about 100 people. A few sat quietly and tried to listen, a few wanted to see the drones for themselves, but the majority were there to challenge police powers.
"We don't trust you with the weapons you do have," shouted a man who said his name was General Malaise. "We are not going to tolerate this in our city. This is unacceptable," yelled Emma Kaplan from The October 22 Coalition to Stop Police Brutality. "NO DRONES!"
Most troubling (besides the fact that they would be used at all) is that the guidelines that SPD claims will limit how drones will be used in the city will be a matter of police policy, rather than city ordinance. In other words, completely unaccountable to the public.
This is also disappointing:
That causes concern for the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, which has called for police and city leaders to tightly regulate what kind of information can be collected by drones, who can collect it, how the information can be used and how long it will be kept.
Screw that. If anyone should be taking a hard line on drones, it's the freaking ACLU. "Tight regulation" means little more than letting the camel's nose under the tent, especially when we are talking expansion of police powers. The ACLU ought to know that better than anyone.