Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Drones Are Everywhere!!

Drones are a hot topic, duh! What I should say is that we can't escape the conversation of drones on a daily basis. The media is covering the topic and even Kendra Baskett (Kendra On Top) talks drones on an episode of her reality TV show. So, how are drones benefiting us as a nation? With 7,000 miles of U.S. land to patrol increasingly, U.S. Customs and Border Protection is relying on drones to help arrest illegal immigrants. That is one immediate benefit. Helping prevent terrorism from overseas is another way they could potentially help too.

Drones are causing a lot of controversy because the public believes they can, possibly and at times, violate privacy. And, drones are expensive. About $62 million dollars a year expensive! With only about 2k in arrests related to the use of drones last year, the $27k per arrest price tag doesn't seem to justify the use of drones within the country. These math figures alone are making the media even more eager to cover the topic.

Over the last ten years, the Department of Homeland Security's unmanned "Eye in the Sky" program has cost nearly $500 million and it's getting an additional $443 million in funding over the next few years. In fact, the DHS expected 23,000 total flight hours per year with this program in the past, but it has only logged about 5,100 in total so far. The DHS has claimed that the drones would operate along the entire southwest border, but according to the Inspector General, they did not. Armed predator drones have been used on the battlefield in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

I don't think we have enough information right now to say if the program and drones are truly worth (or not worth) the expense. I do know that the amount of drug captures have been worth it. Hundreds of millions of dollars in cocaine have been taken off of US streets thanks to drones but somehow the media has failed to cover this. Like any new program or technology, improvements can and should be made. What I think the media is failing to cover is the cost of lives saved thanks to drones, which provide an invaluable safety element that takes boots off the war path.

So yes, drones are everywhere these days when you open or watch any media. I think the conversations are good and need to continue. I think we, as Americans, should consider drones as a useful tool that needs improvement.

Until tomorrow,

Twyla N. Garrett

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