First a BEARCAT, What About a Drone?

I attempt to take conversations to their logical conclusions. If Person A makes an absolutist statement it in the least leaves ample room for questions posited as “devils advocate” and likely brings to light questions never before considered, that upon further scrutiny, causes Person A themselves to admit that flaws exist in their argument.

Over the past week when conversing with Keene police employees about their stance on the possible acquisition of a BEARCAT armored vehicle, some noted that “it’s free” – essentially saying that since it is to be provided via a federal Dept. of Homeland Security grant it’d be erroneous to turn it down.

Overlooking the fact that the federal government (like government at any level) must first steal or print what they spend, my immediate follow-up to such it’s-free-so-why-not-take-it statements is to question the point at which they’d say “no thanks.”

What would Keene “authorities” do if they were offered other military hardware, such as a drone? Sound far-fetched? Not so. Fortunately, as the story below demonstrates, at least some comic relief can be had from this escalation of the police state thanks to the rampant be-afraid-of-everything mindset peddled since 9/11 (hey – any excuse to grow the size and scope of the State, right?)

From Gizmodo.

The Montgomery County (Texas) Sheriff’s Office had a big day planned. After becoming the first department in the country with its own aerial drone ($300,000!), they were ready for a nice photo op. And then the drone crashed into a SWAT team.

The Examiner reports a painfully contrived police action-athon:

As the sheriff’s SWAT team suited up with lots of firepower and their armored vehicle known as the “Bearcat,” a prototype drone from Vanguard Defense Industries took off for pictures of all the police action. It was basically a photo opportunity, according to those in attendance.

“Lots of firepower” and a “Bearcat” sure sounds like a good photo op. OK, time to launch the $300,000 drone. Here we go. Launch the drone:

“[The] prototype drone was flying about 18-feet off the ground when it lost contact with the controller’s console on the ground. It’s designed to go into an auto shutdown mode…but when it was coming down the drone crashed into the SWAT team’s armored vehicle.”

Not only did the drone fail, and not only did it crash, it literally crashed into the police. It’s no wonder we’re not able to find a video of this spectacular publicity failure. Luckily, the SWAT boys were safe in their Bearcat.

This would be a fine one-off blooper story if it weren’t for some upsetting implications. This isexactly why we have reason to raise multiple eyebrows at Congress, which wants to allow hundreds of similar drones to fly over US airspace. These drones are still a relatively young technology, relatively unproven, and relatively crash-prone. The odds of being hit by one are low, of course, but should a Texas-style UAV plummet ever happen in, say, a dense urban area, nobody would be laughing. Not all of us are driving around in Bearcats.

Will a BEARCAT keep you safer? No. It’s just security theater. How about a helicopter or slew of helicopters? I can bet many in LA don’t feel safer with them…

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