(from WSVN-TV Channel 7 News, WSVN.com) DORAL, Fla. — A new piece of technology may soon be coming to South Florida, but is already raising concerns from residents.

The Miami-Dade Police Department recently finalized a deal to buy a drone, which is an unmanned plane equipped with cameras. Drones have been used for years in Iraq and Afghanistan in the war against terror.

Many residents are concerned that the new technology will violate their privacy.

MDPD purchased a drone named T-hawk from defense firm Honeywell to assist with the department’s Special Response Team’s operations. The 20-pound drone can fly for 40 minutes, reach heights of 10,500 feet and cruise in the air at 46 miles an hour. “It gives us a good opportunity to have an eye up there.  A surveilling eye, not a spying eye. Let’s make the distinction. A surveilling eye to help us to do the things we need to do, honestly, to keep people safe,” said Miami-Dade Police Director James Loftus.

The ACLU is one of the organizations that is concerned about the drone that may soon be coming to Miami-Dade County. Howard Simon, the executive director of the ACLU of Florida approves of the drones but also advocates strict regulation of the drones. “Technology: there’s no reason not to embrace technology if it makes the streets safer, if it helps the police. The concern is, though, that every new technology also has within it the capacity to threaten people’s privacy,” he said.

Terrorism expert Douglas Haas, however, believes that the drones will help in many ways, including fighting crime. “This has unlimited capabilities,” said Haas. “Not only is it good tactically for a SWAT call out or any tactical situation, there’s numerous search and rescue applications for it after a hurricane. They could send one of these up fast and assess damage.”

Residents have also questioned whether or not Miami-Dade Police can afford to purchase the drone, especially since the department has recently made a lot of budget cuts. “Nothing happens quickly in the purchasing process, and that’s something that really was in place, the funds for that, a couple of years ago,” Loftus said.

The purchase of the drone may have been made possible through a federal grant; however, this has not been confirmed.

Honeywell has applied to the FAA for clearance to fly the drone in urban areas. This has never been allowed before, but if it does happen, the Miami-Dade Police Department will be the first police agency in the US to use the technology.

Copyright 2011 by Sunbeam Television Corp. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Reprinted here for educational purposes only. May not be reproduced on other websites without permission from Sunbeam Television Corp. Visit the website at wsvn.com.


1. What is a drone?

2. Who currently uses drones on a large scale?

3. a) For what purpose would the Miami-Dade Police Department use a drone?
b) Define surveilling.

4. Why are South Florida residents concerned about the use of drones by the police?

5. What are the benefits of using a drone, according to terrorism expert Douglas Haas?

6. a) Do you think the benefits outweigh citizen concerns over the use of drones by the police? Explain your answer.
b) Ask a parent the same question.


Watch a news video at wsvn.com/news/articles/local/21003198189967.

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