The use of drones in law enforcement is a touchy subject, drawing critics on both sides of the fence. One such recent instance of this was the purchase of a rather expensive helicopter drone by the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office in Texas, which crashed last Friday into Lake Conroe.
The helicopter drone was purchased back in 2011 for $250,000 USD using a federal grant. The purpose for the drone was many, including use in missing persons searches, for watching over operations, and emergency uses. With the drone came both an infrared scanner and a camera.
Unfortunately, the drone’s life was short-lived. Due to some unspecified malfunction, the remote-controlled helicopter — which weighs a bit under 50lbs — crashed into Lake Conroe, where divers are searching for its remains. A combination of deep water and low visibility are hampering the recovery process.
The news is unfortunate for the MCSO, but perhaps not so disappointing for the local ACLU and other protesters who criticized the purchase and use of the drone. Surveillance (for which the drone was not used) concerns, among others, comprised the negative views.