I read in the paper recently that North Little Rock and several other local police agencies have joined the nefarious eye-in-the-sky move by adding drones to the force. All this Big Brother activity has got me paranoid. Shouldn't we all be a little bit paranoid?
-- Winston Smith,
It was wholly a pleasure to hear from you and a further pleasure to be able to assuage your concerns.
Paranoid? You can spend your entire life fretting over imagined conspiracies and wallowing in a slough of paranoia if you choose to slog down that path. Goodness knows there are plenty of folks to keep you company.
To quote that great philosopher, Rudy Giuliani, "I'm not paranoid, I just don't trust people."
And what if there is no proof of law enforcement collusion to intrude into every aspect of your private life with drones? The keen social observer and national treasure George F. Will states in his seminal 1998 book The Woven Figure: Conservatism and America's Fabric, "The utter absence of proof for a proposition is proof of a successful conspiracy to destroy all proof."
And if those sages are too esoteric for you, we can go with the grass roots perspicacity of the late, great Merle Haggard: "We are under [the government's] control, and if people don't realize that, they haven't looked around. And if they're not paranoid, they haven't thought about it."
You can persist, if you want, in believing drones are the seemingly innocuous gateway technology for the introduction of the insidious Skynet -- the foot in the door for the neural net-based conscious group mind and artificial general intelligence that will one day rule all our lives.
I prefer the quiet reassurance of J.D. Salinger, who wrote, "I am a kind of paranoiac in reverse. I suspect people of plotting to make me happy."
And knowing that our thin blue line is keeping a watchful eye from above makes me happy. After all, the Little Rock and Cammack Village police departments have had observation drones for several years with no complaints. They do, however, take umbrage of the term Big Brother will all its dystopian Orwellian baggage and inference of pervasive governmental invasion of privacy. They look upon the devices as powerful tools in the war on crime.
When asked to elaborate, a LRPD spokesman requested the press refer to the drone program as the Sky Patrol Initiative or SPI.
In addition to the two departments above, the Pulaski County sheriff's office, the Sherwood police, the Benton County sheriff's office and six other state agencies have bought drones and are in the process of training officers.
These are the small, unobtrusive little buzzy drones such as the DJI Mavic PRO Quadcopter that hovers 100 feet above the ground for as long as 40 minutes.
North Little Rock, however, is the first municipality in the country to take law enforcement drones to the next level. The city has purchased a used German drone after that country pulled out of the NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) system.
The city got it for only $11.8 million. That may seem to be a lot, but it'll pay for itself with speeding tickets within three years. If a street is posted 30 mph, the drone can clock you to within 0.02 milliseconds, write you a ticket for going 31 and send the traffic judge a link proving you a scofflaw.
North Little Rock's used Northrop Grumman Global Hawk Block 40 drone is low-mileage, whisper quiet, and can cruise for 14 hours at 20,000 feet, scanning the entire city from Maumelle to Scott with its 1.8 gigapixel color and black-and-white TV cameras, image intensifiers, radar, infra-red imaging for low-light conditions and Autonomous Real-time Ground Ubiquitous Surveillance-Imaging System or Argus-IS.
The drone, which takes to the skies at the end of October, will be controlled by a team of six highly trained officers operating from the municipal airport. They can be trusted with your privacy because Act 293 of 2015 prohibits the use of drones for video voyeurism.
Until next time, Kalaka reminds you of Jim Butcher's words in his 2000 novel Storm Front: "But just because you're paranoid doesn't mean there isn't an invisible demon about to eat your face."
Fayetteville-born Otus the Head Cat's award-winning column of
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HomeStyle on 10/21/2017
Print Headline: Stop worrying; NLR police drone is our friend