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Calling all drones, calling all drones

A Predator drone

A Predator drone

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Updated: April 19, 2013 6:12AM



‘Drones could back up the beat cops!” My husband spouted off the other day.

Are you serious?

“Of course,” came the snort from deep in his stuffed chair, surrounded by stacks of newspapers piled high. “It’s easy to see that the city and the police department may be ignoring a truly significant tool in their tool box.”

I hate to give the darling hubby any slack. But he’s got a point. Chicago is in desperate straits. We can’t afford to dismiss any idea that may tackle the hideous gun violence that has been devastating our neighborhoods.

So how about it? Flying drones in the ’hood.

It’s a heater issue. President Barack Obama’s administration has been subsumed in a raging debate about the deployment of drones to fight terrorism overseas.

Drones could be dispatched to our wars right here at home. Drones navigating the streets of Woodlawn, Englewood, Roseland. Steel-and-wired contraptions equipped to detect illicit activity on our corners, alleys and parks.

It seems so outer space. Yet, nationwide, “a small network of police, first responders and experts is already flying unmanned aircraft,” the Reuters news service reported earlier this month. “These operators say rapidly evolving drone technology is already reshaping disaster response, crime-scene reconstruction, crisis management and tactical operations.”

And the Miami Dade County Police Department has asked the Federal Aviation Administration for approval to fly a Micro Air Vehicle (MAV), says a report by CBS-TV Miami. The MAV is a small, radio-controlled drone aircraft equipped with a portable camera system. CBS posted a web photo of a whimsical-looking contraption reminiscent of “The Robot” from the ’60s show “Lost in Space.”

This drone is no cute TV character. It can go airborne to gather intelligence, detect danger and provide high-tech cover in violence-prone places, Miami-Dade Sgt. Andrew Cohen told the TV station. For example, if a police team “has to go into an area they don’t know what’s there, we don’t know what is in the backyard,” Cohen said, “they want to know if there are dogs in the backyard, if there is a shed, things that could be a threat to us.”

The MAV, which CBS dubbed “eye in the sky,” is already used by the U.S. military to scope out peril in war zones, scanning territory before troops move in.

OK, mobs from the left and civil libertarian land — before you descend upon me, with knives and stones at the ready — take a breath.

The Chicago Police Department is clearly outgunned and out-manned. The gangs are so cocksure of their dominance that they wantonly murder infants and children, then keep right on steppin.’

Equipped with the right technology, drones could cover a massive amount of urban territory ground. These 24/7 eyes in the sky could disrupt the gang-banging and other illicit activity, give the cops high-tech cover and save lives.

Unlike cops, drones don’t need union contracts or pricey pension benefits. Drones don’t need lunch breaks or overtime. They don’t even need to stop for doughnuts.

Technology can be a friend in desperate times. Those times are now.



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