That's right...drones...up to 25 pounds worth and patrolling airspace a long ways away from Pakistan.
The FAA just gave law enforcement agencies permission for limited training and use of drones and the LASD has indicated a potential interest in such unmanned aircraft to fill "certain capability gaps."
Law enforcement agencies may not get much resistance to the extent such unmanned aircraft are used to aid search and rescue operations. But if surveillance photos taken by drones start popping up in criminal investigations the challenges are sure to come in both criminal and civil courthouses.
The Fourth Amendment and Section 1983 may form the basis for such challenges and the questions will focus on privacy rights, civil liberties and what a reasonable expectation of privacy means in a high tech world.
Under current Fourth Amendment analysis aerial surveillance is permitted under certain circumstances without a warrant. But there are limits to what police can do, even in the face of a Fourth Amendment jurisprudence that continues to evolve and depend on factors including societal norms, capabilities and expectations.
Section 1983 could provide a vehicle for redress if law enforcement uses drones in a way that deprives someone of his or her Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search by the government.