The nation is debating the legality of drones in local law enforcement. Sure, it’s convenient for honest police. But drones were also convenient for Supreme Chancellor Palpatine (Star Wars). In a blurb: If it’s not worth having real people enforce the law, then the law isn’t worth being enforced. Unmanned policing gives too much power to corruption.
There are several perspectives to consider…
Constitutionally, congress is not given power to use unmanned technology to enforce laws. The United States was founded in an era when unmanned technology didn’t exist, let alone could it be capable of enforcing laws. I doubt any credible lawyer would suggest that the founding fathers of the United States believed Freedom was attained by the sacrifice of circuitry. Liberty is refreshed, not with remote-controlled technology, but through the blood of patriots and tyrants (Jefferson).
Ethically, people can only be governed by other people. If machines could make decisions, we wouldn’t need the legal justice system and all lawsuits would be invalid. But problems are bigger than machines can understand. Once people are taken out of any level of the legal-justice system, injustice has already taken root.
We shouldn’t have waited to debate drones in law enforcement—we should have started the debate long ago, when strict enforcement of traffic lights began… especially using cameras at intersections.
We need police to drive with traffic to ensure cars flow properly, including proper use of turn signals. Police shouldn’t stake-out highways with radar guns, trapping people who drive at speeds that don’t cause accidents. There is little data to support that 80MPH on the express way causes more accidents than people not paying attention at slow intersections in town.
And why don’t people pay attention at slow intersections? Could it be that we’ve been taught not to think? If the light is green, go. If the light is red, wait. Cross traffic doesn’t get a thought in either case. But countries like Mexico, Brazil, Taiwan, Spain, and many others in the world have fewer traffic accidents and very liberal enforcement of traffic lights. Once the lights think for us, we’re no longer taking responsibility for keeping the road safe. Accidents are caused by blame-shifting and lack of common courtesy. But who needs to be courteous when a light always says who goes first?
Police punish citizens for not coming to a complete stop at stop signs, even when there is no cross traffic in sight. Excessive stopping uses up breaks quickly, lowers gas mileage, and waiting at unnecessary red lights wastes time and fuel. Perhaps the environmentalists would make the air cleaner by pushing traffic light reform.
The sad thing is, many Christians actually believe that God is more pleased with people who waste time and fuel, sitting at red lights, when there aren’t any other people around. But the golden rule applied to people. It might explain why the American Church seems to have a distraught view of God, as well as the myth that God’s commands don’t make sense. I believe God’s commands make perfect sense, which is why I’m convinced He wants police to give grace at traffic light-governed intersections. But that opens a whole other debate we don’t want to open.
I’m not suggesting that people be reckless at intersections, nor that traffic lights are a bad idea. But, by definition, traffic signals govern traffic. One car doesn’t constitute traffic. If you’re alone, the only business the police have with your red light is to walk out into the intersection and wave you through, as an act of decent, public service.
Are automated systems useful? Absolutely. More and more border check points have automated security for frequent travelers who have proven they are safe. Computerized gates and fingerprint scanners free the border agents to focus on the real threats—but border agents are always right there to override the automated system. It’s good because real human beings have the power of law enforcement over the machines. The same should be true of a traffic lights and speed limits.
If lights and cameras were the answer to keeping travelers safe, then the TSA wouldn’t be necessary. If the city can see on a camera that you drove through a red light intersection, without causing a crash, and without interrupting traffic, then they know the intersection was safe and should not issue you a ticket. More people should be fined for failing to yield and signal. But machines can’t figure that out. So it seems, machines, not humans, are running the show.
So, I don’t debate drone use. Any system is unfounded by the Constitution, and goes against another inalienable right called common sense, if it enforces laws that serve no public purpose. Strict enforcement of unnecessary laws is the litmus test of whether local officials will abuse drones and cameras. So, is it legal? The answer is: not in America.
We need an Amendment restricting unmanned law enforcement, along with a Good Samaritan rule for traffic signs: If traffic is safe, the police should say, “Yeah. There is no cross traffic and you want to run that red light because you’re smart. We need more citizens like you who obey laws that matter, who do what’s right even when there isn’t a law saying so, and who take responsibility upon themselves to keep the roads safe, not delegating that responsibility to a set of circuitry.”
We’re already slaves to the machines. John Connor should have sounded the alarm when we let red lights tell us it’s okay to waste fuel. Maybe you disagree. Maybe you favor drone use in law enforcement, maybe you think drones are from Satan himself, probably you’re somewhere between. It’s great to discuss different opinions. We live in a free world… for now. But one thing is for sure: If you support strict traffic light enforcement, you have no right to complain about drones.
Note: If you’re in a local police force, thanks for your service to others. Go catch the bad guys and don’t worry about me. I do things through legislation, not vigilante justice, and I don’t plan on running red lights in America. I live in Asia, where red lights are often ignored and traffic accidents are low. Maybe, one day, America will find a way to make their roads safer as well, then your job will also be a whole lot easier.