US farm drama: Predator drone assists an arrest
12 Dec, 2011 12:00
A US family has been arrested with the help of a Predator drone, after a search for a missing cow did not go to plan.By “drone” we do mean military reconnaissance and assault flying machine used by the US Army and the CIA, mostly abroad.
This is the first time in American history that an unmanned aircraft has been used to assist police in making an arrest on US soil. To be precise, this is the same Predator drone that the US army uses in military missions across Afghanistan, Pakistan and any other theater of US-inspired conflict. The drone was called to the rescue when… six cows went missing in North Dakota. Nelson County Sheriff Kelly Janke went searching for them on the Brossart family farm, armed with a warrant. Next thing he knew, he was chased off by three armed men – Alex, Thomas and Jacob Brossart. Next thing they knew – a mini army and a Predator B drone have been called in. State Highway Patrol, a regional SWAT team, a bomb squad, ambulance, deputy sheriffs from three other counties and a drone arrived at the scene, reports the Los Angeles Times. The drone was on its way back to its hangar from a mission on the US-Canadian border, and since it had fuel left in its tank, the pilot agreed to send it to the farm.The drone circled the farm while Janke and other officers watched live thermal images from the comfort of their van. Once the suspects had been spotted and it was confirmed that they were not armed, police moved in and arrests were made. A property search turned up two rifles, two shotguns, assorted bows and a samurai sword, reports the Los Angeles Times.The missing cows have been found too.A total of five people were arrested – Rodney Brossart, his sons Alex, Thomas and Jacob and their sister Abby. All face a total of 11 felony charges. Later they were all released on bail.Earlier this year, Janke attended a briefing on how Customs and Border Protection drones can assist police, and when an opportunity presented itself, he called for the unmanned aircraft.In November, the Federal Aviation Administration had been considering rules that would bring the controversial aircraft into the country.And voilà! Here they are.According to the Department of Homeland Security’s website, the government has already been using drones domestically for several years, but mostly keeps mum on their missions, saying only that they are regularly used for "support of disaster relief efforts."But with missile-equipped drones causing thousands of deaths overseas, the introduction of a drone program Stateside could be detrimental to America as it would mean the government considered its own territory a war zone. "It's going to happen," Dan Elwell, vice president of civil aviation at the Aerospace Industries Association, toldthe Times. "Now it's about figuring out how to safely assimilate the technology into national airspace."