Through a joint-agency agreement, valley law enforcement officials announced today that $45 million recently received as part of a federal grant program to improve community policing will be spent on drones used to monitor Garden City as part of the S.A.F.E. (Safety and Freedom Enhancement) Program.
“Look, let's be honest here,” newly installed Treasure Valley Aerial Recon Coordinator Charles “Bomber” Wright told BW, “it's practically a rogue nation. Garden City may not have nuclear aspirations yet, but it's only a matter of time. It was either this, or build a wall.”
The remote-controlled Predator spy planes—similar to those used by law enforcement agencies around the country, including Los Angeles—will fly patrol routes up and down Chinden Boulevard, while smaller, more nimble helicopter-style drones will patrol the Greenbelt looking for cougars and kids smoking pot by the Clocktower Pond. Checkpoints will also be established to ensure that no RV dealers try to defect to Boise proper.
City of Boise Defence Contract Manager Norman Blackwasser told BW that while the move likely represents some sort of constitutional breach, the facilities and staff required for the drones—which cost $4.5 million each—would be an economic boon for the city, so it worked out in a cost-benefit analysis.
“Look, they're not exactly the F-15s we were hoping for, but we're a smaller market, so it makes sense we would get smaller military planes,” he said.
Reinhardt Luftmeister, regional representative of the Federal Aviation Administration, said he was not aware of any authorization to use unmanned surveillance aircraft in Ada County, but “it’s probably OK.”
Sen. Noah Lobos, R-Mackay, touted the drones’ potential use in wildlife management to select reporters in Capitol Park, where one of the black-painted S.A.F.E. aircraft was on display April 1.
“Let's see those wolves eat our freedom now,” he said, pausing to pose for photographs astride the drone’s fuselage.
A spokesperson from the American Civil Liberties Union responded to a phone call from BW with an audible sigh, while an email requesting comment from Canyon County-based Federation of Urbanites Behind Armed Resistance was returned with a simple, “We told you so.” I.P. address tracking revealed that it had been sent from a submarine beneath Lake Lowell.
Delivery of the 10-strong aircraft fleet is expected sometime this summer, and drone flights are slated to commence no later than April 1, 2014.