Privacy SOS

Toys for the boys

Hey, did you hear the one about the $300,000 drone belonging to the Sheriff’s Office of Montgomery County, Texas crashing into the Bearcat armored vehicle belonging to the Sheriff’s SWAT team?

This is no joke. It actually happened early in March turning a test flight photo op at an airfield near Houston. 

It turns out that drones crash a lot. They suffer mechanical failures and they don’t like turbulence.

And they present a host of problems “to air traffic flow, air traffic controller workload, and departure and arrival procedures,” as this study by the GAO documents. Not to mention, the GAO says, the “possible terrorist interest” in using them as weapons…

But the drone lobby is undaunted. And since Congress passed legislation clearing the way for some 30,000 of them to take to the skies by the end of the decade, law enforcement agencies are eager to get what Houston police have been testing secretly since November 2007. 

As for the Bearcat that was the drone’s unintentional target, it is unclear whether it was the bulletproof $300,000 model equipped with gun turrets, battering rams, and tear-gas capability favored by some SWAT teams.  If so, there could be $600,000 tied up in just those two machines. 

If the Bearcat was damaged, so much better for the Massachusetts economy. The Lenco plant in Pittsfield where the 16,000 pound monsters are produced might be called on for a repair – or perhaps a whole new toy, paid for with our tax dollars.

© 2021 ACLU of Massachusetts.