The departments of Justice and Homeland Security reportedly have been working with the drone industry and local law enforcement agencies to introduce unmanned aircraft to the homeland.
According to reports, through its Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) —a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) program established to assist communities with counterterrorism projects—the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) provides grants to enable police and sheriff departments to launch their own drone programs.
According to DHS, UASI “provides funding to address the unique planning, organization, equipment, training and exercise needs of high-threat, high-density urban areas, and assists them in building an enhanced and sustainable capacity to prevent, protect against, respond to and recover from acts of terrorism.”
In 2011 a DHS UASI grant of $258,000 enabled the Montgomery County Sheriffs Office in Texas to purchase a ShadowHawk drone from Vanguard Defense Industries. DHS UASI grants also allowed the city of Arlington, Texas, to buy two small drones.
Even in the UASI project proposals there’s little or no mention of terrorism or counterterrorism. Local police forces want drones to bolster their surveillance capabilities and serve as an adjunct to their SWAT teams and narc squads.
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