In recent times, military assets are becoming a law-enforcement weapon, used to deal with national problems and helping officers to arrest various criminals across the borders of the United States. In June 2011, the North Dakotasheriff used a military drone in order to arrest an antigovernment group, while avoiding a possible gun fight thanks to the air asset.
As it turns out, this incident is not an isolated one. It is a known fact that U.S. Customs and Border Protection operates aerial drones along some borders of the United States, but their purpose was to detect illegal immigration and smuggling routes. In some extreme cases, a Predator Drone can offer interior law enforcement support, though actual policies and special specifications do not exist. Reports given by North Dakota police alone suggest that such aerial assets were used on various occasions in order to deal with internal matters.
The drones used so far on American soil are unarmed Predator B drones (also known by the name of MQ-9 Reapers), being the same model used in the War on Terror (without equipped Hellfire missiles). MQ-9 Reapers that are on American soil are only used for situational awareness and surveillance, officials say. The fact that drones are used at all raises some privacy issues that irritate certain citizens of the U.S. Taking into consideration the Posse Comitatus Act, the military is strictly prohibited to take on a police role in the American soil.
In June 2011, reports say that the sheriff had a warrant in order to search a family’s land in order to look for some missing cows, and because the demand was answered with violence, the sheriff took precautions in order to track down the antigovernment group, calling upon two military drones. The footage from the drones provided vital data and ultimately, made the arrest possible without any violence.
This case is a good example regarding military technology aiding police to avoid violent confrontations, but it is also quite troubling and certain decisions must be made regarding a certain law that allows or denies the use of military assets within American soil.