TIME magazine reports that the first time a Predator drone was involved in arrests of U.S. citizens was in North Dakota in June 2011. It also reports on pending North Dakota legislation.
According to the TIME cover story:
It's not a hypothetical. In June 2011 a county sheriff in North Dakota was trying to track down three men, possibly carrying guns, in connection with some missing cows. He had a lot of ground to cover, so — as one does — he called in a Predator drone from a local Air Force base. It not only spotted the men but could see that they were in fact unarmed. It was the first time a Predator had been involved in the arrest of U.S. citizens.
Exactly how often Predators have been seconded to local law-enforcement agencies in this manner isn't known; that information is the object of a pending Freedom of Information Act request by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. But there's at least one Reaper equipped with Gorgon Stare at large in the U.S. Legislators from both parties, in North Dakota and elsewhere, are scrambling to throw legal restraints around the domestic use of drones. In Virginia, the relevant bill is supported by both the ACLU and the Virginia Federation of Tea Party Patriots.
Here are the links to the TIME cover story and to the pending North Dakota legislation:
Feb. 8, 2013