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Surveillance Drones Over Santee?

The San Diego Sheriff Office looked into purchasing surveillance drones.

Last year, MuckRock and The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) received documents from a Freedom of Information Request that found that the San Diego Sheriff's Office (SDSO) was in communication with a drone manufacturer with the intention of purchasing surveillance drones. The information was received when the Seattle Police Department released 250 pages of email, internal memos, contracts, and sample sales quotes. One of the sample sales quotes was for SDSO [here is the sales quote]. The quote stated that the San Diego Sheriff's Office was looking into purchasing a Scout Air Reconnaissance System  from Datron World Communication, Inc., a company based in Vista, California. Datron representatives have told MuckRock that the SDSO had visited them and left with a thumb-drive full of information on their products. 

When MuckRock contacted the SDSO, on July 12, 2012  they said that they had no documents regarding Drones. It wasn't until months later, and persistence from MuckRock, that they finally admitted that they did, in fact, look into getting drones. However, for unnamed reasons, they did not purchase them just yet. 

The fact that Police Departments across the nation are looking into, purchasing, and using drones brings up real concerns for private citizens and their valuable civil liberties. On June 12th of 2012, Senator Rand Paul introduced the bill, "Preserving Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act of 2012." The bill said, with exceptions, that, "a person or entity acting under the authority, or funded in whole or in part by, the Government of the United States shall not use a drone to gather evidence or other information pertaining to criminal conduct or conduct in violation of a statute or regulation except to the extent authorized in a warrant that satisfies the requirements of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States." On his website, Senator Paul said that "Americans going about their everyday lives should not be treated like criminals or terrorists and have their rights infringed upon by military tactics."

Fox News commentator Judge Andrew Napolitano spoke out against domestic drones on his show and stated that "The first American patriot that shoots down one of these drones that comes too close to his children in his backyard will be an American hero.”  He has also written articles for Reason Magazine and LewRockwell.com.

Not everyone is against the domestic use of surveillance drones. The San Diego Free Press reported that local congressmen Rep. Duncan Hunter and Rep Darrell Issa have gotten more than $200,000 from drone firms.

We already have security cameras all over the streets watching our every move. Leaked Stratfor emails released by the whitsleblowing group Wikileaks and allegedly provided by hacker Jeremy Hammond, have revealed a nationwide widespread surveillance system, which is provided  by a private company, called TrapWire. Southern California is also a testing ground for facial recognition software developed by FaceFirst. RT reported that an unnamed San Diego law enforcement agency is using the technology.


Are you, a tax paying, law abiding citizen, willing to allow the San Diego Sheriff's Department to unconstitutionally spy on you with domestic  drones? How much longer will it be before police drones are weaponized? Let me remind you of something Benjamin Franklin once said, "Those who trade freedom for security end up with neither."

Please leave your comments below on whether or not you support domestic surveillance drones in the City of Santee and the rest of the nation.


This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Mary January 28, 2013 at 07:16 PM
Since I don’t partake in criminal conduct or violate statutes or regulations, I have no problem with the idea of surveillance by drones. To me there is no difference between drones or stationary security cameras.
Kellie Hopstein January 28, 2013 at 07:22 PM
I am for anything that makes Santee safer for my kids. Maybe it will cut back on bike thefts, we lost 3 last year alone!
Batman January 28, 2013 at 07:23 PM
Secure the border first and then we'll talk about drones.
BridgetBurns January 28, 2013 at 07:29 PM
@Batman - You could go down and volunteer to help the Border Patrol along with all the rest of the anti gun control advocates on this site.
Doug Curlee January 28, 2013 at 08:13 PM
batman..it doesn't occur to you that drones can be very instrumental in securing those borders? sure does to me.. doug
Batman January 28, 2013 at 08:27 PM
Yes Doug, that makes sense. They can put the drones on the border right after they finish building the fence.
adam paul January 28, 2013 at 08:37 PM
This isn't a good thing people. And anyone who says they don't have a problem with this well they should because giving up any tiny freedom leads to bigger issues. The drones have been already flying across the country spying on people and it isn't a good thing.
Harry Jones January 28, 2013 at 10:27 PM
Since I too do nothing illegal, guess drones don't bothet me that much, but does bother me is the SDSO lying aobut not knowing/having any paperwork for them. Then, after presistant questions, they do. Makes me think I'd better take a seocnd look at it since they seemed to want to keep it secret.
Steven Bartholow (Editor) January 29, 2013 at 12:30 AM
FYI: The comment postings on this page made by "Mayor of Santee" were not made by the actual Mayor of Santee, Randy Voepel. The impostor account has been suspended.
Ken January 29, 2013 at 01:27 AM
I can't believe that people are okay living in a police state and are in fact happy to have the police watch them!!!! The Patriot Act, NDAA, and drones are all example of our government getting bigger and bigger by slashing away our civil liberties! Just because one does not partake in crime doesn't mean they should be willing to give away their rights. I am not a criminal and I don't want drones flying over my property. It would be an eerie feeling to know that your every move was being watched by a literal eye in the sky. Drones aren't going to bring your bikes back. The difference between using drones on the border, which DHS is doing [bit.ly/NbS6x4], and on citizens is that we have civil rights that protect us against this sort of thing. Did you read the article?? Some sheriff in Texas wants to weaponize them.
PwmCwzy January 29, 2013 at 06:22 AM
Why is everyone excited about the Sheriff’s Dept requesting a quote and looking into a surveillance tool that many municipalities are probably looking at also? Did they buy it? Is it included in any budget? I’m sure there are many items that various departments request quotes on that are never ordered. More Fear Mongering.
anon anon January 29, 2013 at 06:56 AM
"If we restrict liberty to attain security we will lose them both.” - Benjamin Franklin
Don January 29, 2013 at 05:57 PM
What is the difference between the drones and manned helicopters? If you think the helicopter flying over is not recording you are mistaken.
James Thomas January 29, 2013 at 10:26 PM
Please wake up folks. Do you want these things looking in your window at you or your daughter at any time. You don't know who is on the receiving end of this thing and what their capable of doing in there off hours. In case you forgot there have been Highway Patrol men pulling over young woman and killing them. We have some bridges in this county named after them. Might even find some incident on you tube. I see a lot of police video on you tube. So use your brain before you speak. Carry or keep a gun close by for protection and for heaven sake lock you bikes.
Hooray for Chicken January 30, 2013 at 03:26 AM
It's a shame to see that people really don't see the truth. Please understand local, state and federal Government want to know everything about you. Of coarse they say it's for your protection, not really though. Give them an inch and they'll take a mile. State wide look how the people were told to vote to raise sales tax and our schools will get the 6 million or billion what ever it was but now that it has past they are only are getting 2. They want to look in close on you to see what you have so they can take even more. So please wake up and look outside the political box. Before they put you in one for keeps. Any one wanting drones flying in there back yard please seek medical help.
PwmCwzy January 30, 2013 at 04:01 PM
I guess you don't think that between banks, credit card companies, cell phones, GPS, security cameras, library cards, etc., etc., etc., people don't know what you are doing? I would rather have drones overhead than the constant touch and go antics from Gillespie.
Ken January 30, 2013 at 11:06 PM
All of those things you just mention AND surveillance drones are all part of the problem at is the growing surveillance state in this country! The Patriot Act, NDAA, SOPA/PIPA (which were thankfully defeated!!!). All of that needs to be stopped so we can restore the unalienable rights in the Bill of Rights. The government doesn't need to know my every move. That TrapWire thing from the article is scary!! That is completely unAmerican. It's shocking that people are OK with just giving their right away!! The planes from Gillespie are private planes and have nothing to do with drones.
Alan Stuart February 03, 2013 at 07:33 AM
Thank you everyone for your comments. As you can see in the article I have included many links to various things on he internt. I just wanted to share a few more links about this topic. 1. Vice's Motherboard had a piece called Drone On: http://www.vice.com/en_uk/motherboard/drone-on-motherboard It includes many visits to local San Diego drone companies including Datron. You can see the lead in the video actually spend time at Datron and fly the same drone the SDPO looked into. 2. PBS's NOVA had a show about drones, this is a clip: http://video.pbs.org/video/2325492143/ If you end up watching the entire show remember they get a lot of funding from Lockhead Martin, a company that does manufacture drones and has financial benefits to gain from an expanded drone program. 3. RT has a piece claiming that other media has downplayed the significance of TrapWire: http://rt.com/usa/news/trapwire-surveillance-abraxas-times-671/ It includes links to the articles against RT's coverage of TrapWire as well as the rebuttal. The San Diego based company Cubic is also mention because they own the company that developed TrapWire. 4. Lastly I wanted to share an interview with a NSA whistle-blower on Democracy Now!: http://www.democracynow.org/2012/4/20/exclusive_national_security_agency_whistleblower_williamhe talks about the growing surveillance state in the USA more here too: http://www.democracynow.org/2012/4/23/more_secrets_on_growing_state_surveillance
Mary February 09, 2013 at 04:50 PM
“The new list reveals 81 entities that have applied for permission to fly drones in U.S. airspace… Seventeen police departments and sheriff's offices across the country have also filed, among them are stations in Little Rock, Ark., Gadsden, Ala., Miami, Fla., Ogden, Utah, and Seattle, Wash.” Per: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/08/drone-list-domestic-police-law-enforcement-surveillance_n_2647530.html?utm_source=Alert-comment&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Email%2BNotifications
James Thomas February 09, 2013 at 10:31 PM
Thanks Alan for all the info. I hope the General Public will finally recongnize that we don't want these in our neighbor invading our privacy.

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