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Predator drones from Grand Forks base aid local law enforcement

The unmanned aircraft have changed the way the military approaches warfare. But - without any public discussion - they've also become a tool used by local police and sheriff's departments. Some critics say the blending of military and police functions raises red flags.
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The unmanned aircraft have changed the way the military approaches warfare. But - without any public discussion - they've also become a tool used by local police and sheriff's departments. Some critics say the blending of military and police functions raises red flags.

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Authorities in the Fargo-Moorhead area say they haven't yet used the unmanned surveillance aircraft to go after wanted criminals, but they also say they're not opposed to the idea. The state's lawmakers say they also would support using drones in some circumstances. Some civil rights advocates, worried about personal privacy, are pushing for strict rules governing the use of drones.

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The department in North Dakota will be among only seven law enforcement offices nationwide to use unmanned aircraft this spring. The Fargo Forum reports the sheriff's department has partnered with UND to develop an unmanned aircraft systems program that will be unique to the upper Midwest. The drones can be used for standoff situations and crime scenes as well as search and rescue operations.

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