An unknown pundit once quipped: “The Universe gave us Mondays to punish us for the things we did over the weekend.”
Whether or not that’s true, DRONELIFE readers can at least look forward to a fascinating cup of Monday-morning news in the world of law-enforcement drones – no matter what you did this weekend.
Today’s look at public-safety UAVs will take us from the amusing to the macabre.
MuckRock is all about Freedom of Information. Over the past few years, the news site, dedicated to open public records, has launched more than 23,000 FOIA request to state, local and federal agencies.
In 2013, MuckRock developed the Drone Census – a database dedicated to unveiling how and where law-enforcement agencies are using drones. Most requests were met with the expected response from compliance to stubbornness.
One request stood out for its high levels of wise-guy-ness. After two months of requests, the Brockton Police Department finally responded with a comprehensive plan for drone use.
MuckRock owner JPat Brown explains:
“The document contained an photo of the BPD’s fleet in action [a black-and-white photo of flying saucers], a high-resolution shot of their latest and greatest addition [a photo of a balsa-wood toy airplane] and bounty of bounties, a schematic for their super-super, double-secret drones [a photo of instructions for creating a paper airplane].”
After MuckRock got over a few rounds of head-scratching and WTF-type replies, a Brockton official wrote back: “Apparently my attempt to be entertaining in my response to [MuckRock] was not well accepted. Please pardon my levity. The Brockton Police Department does not have a drone program.”
Needless to say, we have yet to see a member of the department light up the standup comedy circuit.
A grim occasion marked the flight of the Liberty Police Department’s drone last week.
After using their new drone for school-safety monitoring and post-flood assessment, investigators launched the aircraft to record imagery of a murder scene to assist the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office.
The body of local woman Latasha Green Rucker was found on Aug. 15. Four days later, police deployed the UAV to take photos of the scene to be used in the trial of suspect Gerard Dante Simmons.
Liberty County Sheriff Bobby Rader hopes the success of the town’s police program will lead to a drone for his office. Speaking to the Dayton News, Rader said: “There is a magazine for drones sitting on my desk right now. We are looking at it.”