LA police added an unusual tool to their arsenal in tracking LA cop Christopher Dorner: drones. Law enforcement has used the small, unmanned flying machines before, but this is the highest-profile case yet.
A police source told Britain’s Daily Express that “The thermal imaging cameras the drones use may be our only hope of finding him. On the ground, it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack.”
The drones are deploying thermal imaging to scope out the heat signature of a hidden human body. Police are having the drones scour the Mexican border and the San Bernadino mountains, where Dorner may be hiding out. The drones join a troubled police effort to find Dorner: several officers shot at 3 innocent people after mistaking their vehicles for Dorner’s, and there’s been no sign of him since Februrary 8th. LAPD is offering a $1 million reward for information leading to his arrest, the largest in Southern California history.
Dorner is as close to a real-life villain as you can get: after he was fired from the LAPD in 2008, he swore to get revenge on officers by killing them and their families. He published a lengthy manifesto on his Facebook page declaring war on the LAPD. He’s accused of killing 3 people so far.
Drones will continue to be a hot topic in privacy as their benefits and drawbacks are debated: they can put out fires and deliver emergency supplies, but they can also spy on innocent civilians and launch aerial attacks. The US accounts for 2/3 of the growing $7.5 billion global market for drones. Ideally, any organization using drones should explain the safeguards they’re using to ensure the drones aren’t misused.
The use of drones in the hunt for Dorner comes on the heels of the city of Seattle announcing that they’re dropping their drone program after residents and privacy advocates protested that the drones could give police unparalleled views into people’s private lives.