Homeland Security Quietly Runs “Loan-a-Drone” Program for Local Law Enforcement

Friday, January 04, 2013
Thomas Brossart (photo: Lake Region Law Enforcement Center)

Government watchdog groups are concerned that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been loaning out sophisticated, expensive drones to local law enforcement, and in the process turning the military’s hottest new weapon on Americans.


In one of the first known instances of domestic drone use, in 2011 DHS loaned one of its unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to police in North Dakota in order to spy on a farmer, Thomas Brossart, who had refused to give back some cows that had wandered onto his property. The Brossart case was the first known drone-aided arrest.


The Washington Guardian reports that since then, DHS and Customs and Border Protection (CPB) have deployed drones several other times to help local law enforcement and other federal agencies.


The problem with the loan-a-drone program, according to critics, is that it is being operated on an ad-hoc basis with no established regulations for how and when to use them, or how to protect Americans’ privacy, or how to make sure taxpayers are reimbursed for the loaners.


After all, CPB’s drones can cost between $15 million and $34 million each to purchase, not to mention their hourly operational costs.


Between loan-a-drone and DHS giving out $4 million in grants to help police buy their own drones, good government groups are concerned that homeland security is subsidizing the militarization of local police forces.


“Drones are a powerful surveillance tool that can be used to gather extensive data about you and your activities,” Jennifer Lynch, a lawyer for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which studies privacy issues, told the Washington Guardian. “The public needs to know more about how and why these Predator drones are being used to watch U.S. citizens.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Homeland Security Increasingly Loaning Drones To Local Police (by Kimberly Dvorak, Washington Guardian)

DHS Inks $443 Million Deal to Buy More Drones (by Joe Wolverton II, New American)

Here’s Who’s Buying Drones: Are Local Cops Watching You from the Sky? (by Matt Bewig, AllGov)

Drones Now Being Used by Police and Sheriffs in U.S. (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)


Tim Currin 11 years ago
These are some historical times we live in. A time where conspiracies from over 100 years ago, agrigate to a final conclusion. The attempt to overthrow the people of the republic, and the very fabric of what made us the most desired place on the earth because of these divine documents. The demonizing of the very individuals that engineered this country to the most sought after nation in the world. We are being attacked at every front, we have already lost most of our freedoms. The division between freedom, and enslavement is close at hand. We will not change for you, we will not stand for a government controlled media, we will not stand or slaughtering children. We are the people, we are America. Tim Currin Ben swann full disclosure lone wolf YouTube. Fox19 Cincinnati OH
anonymouse 11 years ago
Don't look for this news to make much of a splash. After 30 years of relentless assault on our constitutional protections --- first in the name of the bogus and shameful "drug war" and now for on equally bogus "national security" grounds --- has numbed Americans' expectation of personal privacy (at home or in public places) to near zero --- the flying public's unquestioning acceptance of a strip search at the airport is a leading indicator of just how numb we've become.

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