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BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — The use of unmanned drones has raised privacy and safety concerns across the country. But the controversial aircraft could also be a useful tool for law enforcement one a local sheriff would like state lawmakers to consider.

“It is much quicker than a helicopter or plane. much quicker,” Brunswick County Sheriff John Ingram said. “I mean, it can basically be carried around in a vehicle and launched within minutes.”

The portability, the speed and the cost are all reasons why Ingram favors law enforcement agencies’ use of drones.

“It’s just technology, but we have to be mindful how we use that technology and how it will affect our citizens and society,” Ingram said.

Some people are concerned about the thought of a drone flying around.

“I would just want to know exactly the restrictions are and what things are they are able to investigate,” said Sara Willis, who is concerned about drone use.

In a statement the Federal Aviation Administration says there are about 80 law enforcement agencies operating unmanned aircrafts. The FAA says the operator must fly the device within the line of sight no more than 400 feet off the ground.

“Man force is not getting enough done,” said Richard Warren, who supports drone use. “So with the drones, that might be more helpful to law enforcement in solving crimes.”

For agencies like the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office, which only has one helicopter pilot, Ingram says having drone capabilities would be beneficial.

“You could be on scene with something like this, immediately deploy it, and start initiating the search,” he said.

Ingram says this is not something that is going to happen any time soon. These are just the beginning stages of planning for the future.

Comment on this Story

  • 1234543

    I find it very disturbing that first we had to have a helicopter, then we had to have a $500,000 boat to patrol the waterways, then an armored personnel carrier, we’ve got “citizens patrols”, and every cruiser has a computer in it, and now Mr Ingram wants “drones”????, for god’s sake, Brunswick county used to be a safe quite little place to live and retire, has something changed we need to be aware of?

  • Guest2020

    The State of North Carolina has a moratorium in place until 2015, according to the article at Star News. That won’t keep the federal government from sending them our way. This type of technology cannot be trusted in the hands of the government. Some people say that the founding fathers had no clue as to the types of weapons or technology that we have in today’s world. They did know human nature and knew what weapons in the hands of government could mean for the people. The colonials revolted for a lot less than what we put up with today.

  • Guest2020

    If you read the full article at Star News you would see that he says he doesn’t want them for spying. He wants them for practical reasons. He states that there should be regulations as to how low they are allowed to fly over residential areas. I say that the mere possessions of the things make it way too easy for abuse to happen. Government cannot be trusted to do the right thing.

  • Dirk Ziggler

    Duhhh it done woulda be reals spensives. Dem bruco boys done use em fer targetz practiceses..

  • trash

    I support shooting them down. Oops. Thought it was a bird.
    That is an invasion of privacy! Since when was this country given the right to use drones against its citizens?

  • guest6969696969

    When Do WE the *citizen’s*, Or when will We be “notified” that DRONE SEASON begins?
    We’re being “tracked”, “surveillance”, Filmed at almost every corner/street & road..
    STOPPED under the Guise of DUI “checkpoints”, being asked, YOUR PAPERS PLEASE…
    We are heading Faster into a all, but a certain “Police State”…
    Police are the NEW “SS”?? Among 10’s of other “alpha-bit” Agencies, ALL in the Name of SAFTEY?
    Are WE THE PEOPLE, giving up OUR FREEDOMS & LIBERTY in the “Name of Saftey”? Because If We are…
    Quoting Ben Franklin:..
    “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

    The USA is becoming very reminiscent of NAZI, Germany, circ: Early/Late 1930’s, Only with New & improved technology..

  • Angewidert

    Sheriff Ingram expects Brunswick County residents to trust him to do the right thing and not violate their privacy and personal freedom while at the very same time he wants to spy on them because he doesn’t trust them to do the right thing.

  • DollarDivots

    You wold not believe what would happen if someone came in to run for sheriff under the promise of cutting back on LE. Boys that chit is a money making bizness. You think about it, how often you are stopped under the guise of safety for the common good. You just look, google, at the number of boating deaths in NC per year, around 20, for years it was less that 10, you can’t name me the last one in this area. And every year they drown 100 tourist with their dredged out beach sand causing rip currents. Listen to me lay it out like the Terminator. If they really cared about saving lives, they would outlaw alcohol, outright, 10% of all deaths in the US are directly related to alcohol. That is the biggest lie Obama ever told, the weed never killed anybody, and weed smokers are better drivers, google it. SO DON’T GET ME STARTED. As I said boys, that LE is a money making bizness.

  • DollarDivots

    Them pilots don’t come cheap. They train them at the AF academy in Colorado Springs. They can put guns on them that can shoot you right between the eyes at a half a mile…lol, fools

  • Angewidert

    Regardless of whatever the reason or reasons he wants to have drones, his statement was designed to put the best public face on it he could. Who knows what his real deal is.

    Personally, I’d rather not take the chance of finding out. That’s just too big a gamble.

  • Guest2020

    I know. That’s why I made a point to say that it was what he said. It has been a long time since I have trusted any politician on the face of what he says.

  • ChefnSurf

    I cannot even begin to express how extremely uncomfortable I am with this idea.

    A local sheriff, from a county with a spotty history at best in law enforcement discrepancies, wants to generically spy on its citizens while at the same time essentially telling those same citizens they should trust him not to do the wrong thing. His word on that and five gazillion dollars doesn’t have enough value to buy a cup of coffee at Starbucks. He can list all of the “useful” advantages he wants, but sooner or later (and probably sooner), abuses will begin to occur. Once that begins, the floodgates are opened.

    Police Chief Brandon Zuidema (a co-proponent along with Ingram), on behalf of the N.C. Association of Chiefs of Police, urged caution to lawmakers at Monday’s hearing, asking that they not “legislate a solution to a problem that does not yet exist”.(StarNews). Apparently Zuidema “believes” that government should be reactive instead of proactive. He’s saying that closing the barn door after the horse has bolted makes as much sense as making sure the horse never got out in the first place. That‘s just a giant steaming load of male bovine fecal matter.

    The Federal Government’s already collecting tons of data on all of us; local towns like Wrightsville Beach are scanning license plates and running background checks on everyone who goes there, and now a local sheriff wants to spy on everyone in his county with an eye in the sky. If citizens still can’t see the slippery slope for the mountains, they’re either deaf, dumb and blind or completely insane.

    There’s an old saying that says that “Absolute power corrupts absolutely”. People haven’t been saying that for all of these years just because someone accidentally pulled that thought out of someone else’s behind one day. The ability to invade our privacy like this is far too much power for a local sheriff to be wielding. “Don’t worry”, Ingram seems to be implying, “we would never ever abuse this kind of power”.

    The biggest lies in the world start with two little words: “Trust me.”

  • Bernhard Thuersam

    With all due respect, the Sheriff needs to remember who he is serving and who pays his salary. The military helicopters equipped with surveillance equipment, and the surveillance drones both collect information far beyond that necessary for isolated arrests; this is far too lethal a weapon to be put in the hands of those who may abuse it to the detriment of residents. With all due respect to our officers, we only need to look at Sheriff Hewlett’s reign and the Leland PD for a reality check.

    Sheriff Ingram needs to stick with conventional policing and leave citizen surveillance in Pandora’s Box where it should stay. He has lost the next election as far as we are concerned simply for suggesting the surveillance of innocent residents. Perhaps North Korea is in need of a sheriff.

  • BC

    You have to be kidding me…

    First and foremost this is WAYYY too expensive for them to even consider. How many large commercial grow operations, hostage situations, etc do we have to warrant such an expensive piece of equipment that requires a HIGHLY trained team of operators and maintenance techs.

    My suggestion to the sheriff is to get your head out of the clouds, literally, and provide better training to the manned outfit you have now who drive 70+ while talking on their cell phones and not using turn signals when changing lanes. If you want a lofty goal how about doing some police work instead of damage control.

  • guest 2014

    Sounds like a waste of money……….patroling waterways is done by NC Wildlife..they need to be laid off if they are not doing there job….search and rescue what are all these fire departments and first responders doing with the boats and isn’t there a helicopter on call already…..I’d like to see the average money spent on the helicopter compared to what all it has accomplished…..if they are not doing there job lay them off and sell the boats and the helicopter…….who cares about marijuana…I’d be more concerned with heroin,……hostage situations?..most of the times I thought they were inside a building……..Ingram wants to keep up with the Jones’ at our cost …..go raise some money for your toys like you raise money for your job

  • Brunswickresident

    Are the great number “license checkpoints” not enough violation of 4th Amendment rights? Now they want use drones to see what is going on in backyards? No way I can support drone use and Mr Ingram has lost my support. Come on “freedom loving” republicans….stand up for what is right. Just having an “R” next to the politician’s does not make them beyond reproach.

  • steve gould

    That’s absurd, BRUNCO is about as close to a police state as you can get in this country, Sherriff’s have a shiney helicopter at Odel W. FOB, all the cruisers are new, with the latest equipment, there are roadstops everywhere, now Ingram wants drones…NO. he wants to play soldier,send him to Iraq, leave us some freedom John.

  • Guest1851658

    While I favor effective law enforcement, I can see a large can of worms being opened here. We have too many things watching us now. We have very little privacy left. Also, the liability aspect must be considered. If drones are used widely, it is only a matter of time until one goes out of control and injures somebody, causes a bad accident or something else that will be expensive for someone. We don’t need unmanned aircraft flying around spying, delivering packages, scoping out real estate or anything else. Just wait until some techie figures out how to take over control of these toys.

  • Fed up

    I think this is a great idea, for Brunswick County. This will save taxpayers more money than they will ever know.

    With drones, our wonderful officers of the law won’t need to use SABLE helicopter to violate our rights!



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