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The Madera Tribune

Look! Up in the sky! It’s a drone!

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webmaster | 02/16/13

Alameda County Sheriff Greg Ahern is seeking permission from his county’s Board of Supervisors to buy a 4.4-pound drone. He says he would use it to give deputies a sky view of crime scenes and in pursuits of fugitives. He would pay for it with a $31,000 federal grant.

Not all Alameda Countians are in favor of having a drone fly over their communities, even though their communities, like ours, are photographed from space all the time by Google. Apparently they trust Google more than they trust their own sheriff.

Or, maybe they trust Google not to turn them in if one of Google’s cameras spots a marijuana garden or a shed built without a permit.

The American Civil Liberties Union is getting into the act to come up with rules that are supposed to require the sheriff to protect people’s privacy, according to The San Francisco Chronicle, but the sheriff apparently isn’t eager to be saddled with such rules. The drone won’t be armed, the sheriff says. It will just take photos. It wouldn’t be a weapon, he says.

How would we feel if Madera County Sheriff John Anderson asked for permission to fly a drone over our county?

Personally, I wouldn’t mind it. If the drone flew over our backyard, the only suspicious thing it would see would be the cat wandering around occasionally. Oh, it also might notice if I’ve happened to leave the garbage cans in the alley a day or two longer than I am supposed to after they’ve been emptied. “Get a couple of squad cars over to Doud’s,” an alert dispatcher might say. “He hasn’t taken his cans in, and neither has one of his neighbors, for that matter. Bring their rear ends in here and we’ll give them a good talking to.”

Other than something like that, I’d be okay with a drone ... unless my license plates happened to expire. They can see license plates from those things, you know.


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