Alameda County Sheriff's Department

Sandhya Dirks

For the past eight years, one weekend in late summer brings first responders from across the country and around the world -- firemen, medics, SWAT teams and police officers --  to Alameda County for Urban Shield, one of the largest law enforcement training exercises in the country.

Lt. Martin Neideffer oversees the Youth and Family Services Bureau Crime Prevention Unit for the Alameda County Sheriff's Office. He's involved with various programs that help inmates get training and resources before they re-enter into society. Neideffer explains that the Eden Area of Alameda County has high crime and incarceration rates and is an area of Alameda that his department is focused on improving. He joined KALW's Holly Kernan in studio.

Courtesy of EastBayExpress.com

Alameda County Sheriff Gregory Ahern has publicly stated that the drones he wants to buy and deploy in the East Bay would be used primarily for emergency and disaster response. However, internal sheriff's office documents show that Ahern's staffers also envision using drones for traditional police work, including "intelligence gathering" and "crowd control" during large demonstrations.

The word drone may conjure up images of remote-controlled planes firing missiles and killing terrorists in Pakistan and Afghanistan. But in the US, police departments are seeking the same technology to save lives.

Alameda County’s sheriff has expressed interest in adding the unmanned aerial system to his public safety arsenal, but civil liberty activists are blasting the idea as a further erosion of privacy and an abuse of power.