A few days ago, Charles Mudede—and lots of other eager bloggers—circulated a "dubious" story that ex-cop and fugitive Christopher Dorner had become the first drone-search target on US soil. Homeland Security and the Federal Aviation Administration say that isn't true. The FAA reports that it has not issued any authorization for drone flights in conjunction with the Dorner search.
Finding him is clearly a high priority. So when British newspaper the Daily Express published a report Sunday saying that the cops “plan to use spy drones” to search for him in mountains near Los Angeles, other outlets were quick to believe it. The Express, which is not known for its reliable reporting, also claimed the use of drones had been “confirmed” by a Customs and Border Patrol spokesman.
But none of this stands up to much scrutiny. The Express’ claims were called out as “inaccurate” by the Department for Homeland Security last night, with spokesman William Brooks telling me in an email that “CBP UAS [Unmanned Aerial Systems] are not flying in support of the search.”
Mudede thinks the use of drones to police US citizens is a historical inevitability. Maybe so. But we haven't entered that moment yet.
Dorner’s background and training could render even the most advanced spy tools ineffective. That’s why the speed and success of the search effort may hinge on the ability of the cops to track the old fashioned way—droneless, with meticulous land searches, good instincts, and maybe a tip-off or two.