No Drones Over Bay Area Skies Anytime Soon

Sheriff shelves plans to purchase drone

By Chris Roberts
|  Wednesday, Dec 5, 2012  |  Updated 10:54 AM PDT
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Not over our backyards.

Last-minute protests over privacy have stalled Alameda County's plans to purchase a surveillance drone, and other Bay Area law-enforcement agencies have no plans to go the drone route, according to reports.

The Alameda County sheriff's department asked the Board of Supervisors to approve a $31,646 grant to buy a surveillance drone, the Oakland Tribune reported. But protest from the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation -- some of whom called the drone "spying" -- forced supervisors to delay the vote.

Meanwhile, San Francisco police said Tuesday that they have no plans to add drones to their arsenal of crime-fighting tools, according to the San Francisco Appeal online newspaper.

The sheriff said that the drone would be used for surveillance and for search-and-rescue missions, the newspaper reported. The drone purchase agreement, included in the grant language, does say that the device could be used for intelligence-gathering.

The drone plans were shelved and set back to committee for public input, the newspaper reported.

The drone model in question is silent from 50 feet away and "invisible" from 100 feet away, the newspaper reported.

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