Drone leads to arrest of U.S. citizens

It was another quiet summer day in Nelson County, North Dakota last June when a few cows and their calves meandered onto Randy Brossart’s farm. But when police showed up at the farm to retrieve the cattle, County Sheriff Kelly Janke says that he and his deputies were chased off by three gun-toting Brossart boys.

Here’s what happened next according to an item ran in the Grand Forks Herald:

Fearful of an armed standoff, Janke called in reinforcements from the state Highway Patrol, the Grand Forks regional SWAT team, a bomb squad, ambulances and deputy sheriffs from three counties.

He also called in a Predator B drone.

The call for a drone was received by the Border Patrol which fulfilled Janke’s request. The McClatchy story explains what happened next.

As the unmanned aircraft circled 2 miles overhead, its sensors helped pinpoint the suspects, showing they were unarmed.

Janke said he and other officers rushed in and made the first known arrests of U.S. citizens with help from a Predator, the spy drone that has helped revolutionize modern warfare.

The use of drones on U.S. citizens within American borders is alarming to privacy and civil liberty advocates. “Only the guilty have reason to fear!,” writes Brian Doherty on the libertarian site Reason.

Here’s an enthusiastic explainer on the Predator’s use in combat.

  • Ryan

    I don’t see why it’s that big of a deal. It’s aerial observation of suspects. We accomplish this using helicopters and nobody complains. So what if a different aerial government asset was used.

  • Brandon

    What’s the difference between using these drones, over seas or over U.S. soil, to assist in the apprehension of wanted suspects. I can understand the privacy concerns, but when it comes to the safety of our men and women of law enforcement or even the ones serving their country I feel that this type of use is reasonable.

  • jack

    Only the guilty need fear the state. In Nazi Germany the guilty were Jews. In Zionist Israel the guilty are Muslims. In most states anyone who opposes or criticizes the State is an enemy of the state.

    Computers, drones, cell phones, Google, Facebook, make the State more powerful and the individuals less powerful. Currency debasement harms Americans. We have met the enemy and he is us, our own government, acting as a parasite on Americans. Not good.

  • Philip

    How is this any different than using CCTV camera’s or other surveillance measures currently used by law enforcement? There is a human behind the controls of the aircraft and law enforcement officials watching the video. People who cry civil liberties violations simply want to live a consequence free life.

  • John P II

    There’s some interesting issues regarding a federal military-like agency aiding a law enforcement agency, but the LAPD is already planning to deploy their own surveillance drones. I don’t see this as much different than the network of cameras deployed all over St Paul. One day your actions inside your home will be plainly visible to a drone using x-ray technology of some kind. Resistance is futile; you will be assimilated.

  • Dan

    Only the guilty have reason to fear… unless it’s an ideology or political movement involved. Hitler would have loved to have a few of these.

  • Laura

    I’m more interested in the story-did the Brossarts want to keep the cattle or something? What ended up happening to them?

  • john

    how long before we accept the drones being armed? there is a HUGE difference using drones – you cannot hear them like helicopters are they therefore your expectation of privacy is gone. The Natzis ki;ll;ed millions of non-criminal people one step at a time. I am astonded watching our media who used to be watchdogs over the government are totally co-opted covering up this illegal activity. No reports on prime time about congress passing indefinite internment for American citizens without due process. joe Biden call Tea Party ACTIVISTS terrorists, so with passage of this law ALONE allows Obama to have them dissappear at whim!

  • Brad

    This isn’t a particularly big brotherish story. Airplane drones like the Predator are only useful for rural surveillance, and in particular for a case like this. In urban areas there is too much aerial traffic to contend with for drones to be widely deployed, and they don’t make much financial sense for non-violent offenders.

    I’m sure this will change as newer technologies become available, which is why this discussion should be raised a level: given the ever-increasing surveillance tools available, who’s watching the watchers?