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Keep Houston Press Free
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Sheriff's Office Just Lost a Drone in Conroe; We Wonder How Many More Are out There

If you're one of those privacy-loving folks who hate it when their cell phone gets tapped or get even more worried when they hear about the ubiquity of drones hovering around our local airspace, we've got some good news and some bad news for you.

First, the good news. According to the Harris County Sheriff's Office and the Houston Police Department, neither organization is currently using drones.

The bad news?

Our neighbors over in Montgomery County just lost the ShadowHawk drone they've had since 2011, when the quarter-million-dollar machine decided to take a plunge into Lake Conroe late last week.

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According to the Houston Chronicle, the emergency-only device has a "camera and an infrared scanning device" but can also carry a grenade launcher or 12 gauge shotgun, according to its designers.

The report says divers are still looking for the thing that's described as a remote-controlled helicopter. Our local civil liberties organization has been warning us about this.

Civil Liberties organizations were critical when the ShadowHawk drone was purchased from Vanguard just over two years ago.

At the time, Kirsten Bokenkamp, spokeswoman for the Houston-based American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, said the drones raise concerns because there are not enough safeguards in place to protect citizens from unreasonable search and seizure.

"It's just another example of technology that is outstripping our lives," she said. "What we mean by that is the technology moves so quickly and the interpretations of the Fourth Amendment are failing to keep up with the technology. That brings privacy concerns."

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