Unmanning the Police Manhunt: Vertical Security as Pacification


  • Tyler Wall




Drones, pacification, militarization, police manhunt, vertical security


This article provides a critique of military aerial drones being “repurposed” as domestic security technologies. Mapping this process in regards to domestic policing agencies in the United States, the case of police drones speaks directly to the importation of actual military and colonial architectures into the routine spaces of the “homeland”, disclosing insidious entwinements of war and police, metropole and colony, accumulation and securitization. The “boomeranging” of military UAVs is but one contemporary example how war power and police power have long been allied and it is the logic of security and the practice of pacification that animates both. The police drone is but one of the most nascent technologies that extends or reproduces the police’s own design on the pacification of territory. Therefore, we must be careful not to fetishize the domestic police drone by framing this development as emblematic of a radical break from traditional policing mandates – the case of police drones is interesting less because it speaks about the militarization of the police, which it certainly does, but more about the ways in which it accentuates the mutual mandates and joint rationalities of war abroad and policing at home. Finally, the paper considers how the animus of police drones is productive of a particular form of organized suspicion, namely, the manhunt. Here, the “unmanning” of police power extends the police capability to not only see or know its dominion, but to quite literally track, pursue, and ultimately capture human prey.