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NC ACLU Asks: What's With The Drones?

Winston-Salem Police armored car
Walt Unks
Winston-Salem Journal

The largest law enforcement agencies in the state are being questioned about their use of military style weapons, technology and arrest tactics.  The North Carolina American Civil Liberties Union has sent public records requests to 62 law enforcement agencies.

“One of the reasons that we were very interested in sending out these public records requests, we learned that Gaston County had a drone.  And that was a big revelation,” says state ACLU director Chris Brook.

Brook says unmanned aerial vehicles and other military-style devices could step on privacy and other civil liberty issues and encourage overly aggressive policing.

"It's part of the broader concerns that we have about privacy and about police use of cutting edge technology," Brook says. 

"And at the very least, North Carolinians deserve to know what their law enforcement officials are purchasing and using in law enforcement efforts."

The Winston-Salem Journal reports local police there rolled out its armored car to end standoffs three times in recent years.

The ACLU has sent public records requests to police departments in North Carolina's largest cities, including Winston-Salem, Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Raleigh, Durham, Cary and Greensboro.  The civil liberties organization wants to know everything from the funding sources of such weapons and technology to the number of injuries sustained by civilians during deployments.

ACLU affiliates simultaneously filed public records requests on this issue in 22 states this week.

Leoneda Inge is the co-host of WUNC's "Due South." Leoneda has been a radio journalist for more than 30 years, spending most of her career at WUNC as the Race and Southern Culture reporter. Leoneda’s work includes stories of race, slavery, memory and monuments. She has won "Gracie" awards, an Alfred I. duPont Award and several awards from the Radio, Television, Digital News Association (RTDNA). In 2017, Leoneda was named "Journalist of Distinction" by the National Association of Black Journalists.
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