Although the use of drones by American law enforcement is getting some pushback, and growing number of small towns and counties are taking the UAV plunge. Here’s a look at police-drone news you may have missed from last week.
A curious THV11 viewer asked the Little Rock station’s news team the question on many citizens’ mind: How are drones being used in the Razorback State. Reporter Phil Buck found that UAV use is on the rise in the state. Interviewing a Little Rock attorney, Buck discovered that drone privacy issues for civilians had been addressed with the passage of Act 239 in 2015. The attorney also pointed out that “the constitutional protections given to citizens involving privacy, surveillance and legal search and seizure all still apply when drones are being used by law enforcement.” Efforts to specifically address police/UAV guidelines died in 2013. A house bill would have regulated how much drone-recorded imagery police could retain of areas that had not been targeted. The bill also prohibited UAV weaponization. An anonymous sheriff’s official told THV11 that the department has “used the drone for surveillance but mostly use it as a safety tool.”
An effort to track an armed suspect via drone may have ended in defeat for Shawnee police last week, but the maiden voyage marked a new milestone for the department. “Police and K-9 units searched the area and the department decided to launch a drone with a camera to help get a better look,” reported KMBC. A suspect fled police near the town of Monticello. In light of successful police-drone operations, the department remains optimistic that the Shawnee drone would prove effective for future operations and that they were still learning about the UAV’s capabilities, adding that “it’s too early to tell what other uses the devices might have, but searching for a suspect, a missing person or survivors of a disaster are all possible ways.”
Note: Look for Part 2 on Tuesday.
Jason is a longstanding contributor to DroneLife with an avid interest in all things tech. He focuses on anti-drone technologies and the public safety sector; police, fire, and search and rescue.
Beginning his career as a journalist in 1996, Jason has since written and edited thousands of engaging news articles, blog posts, press releases and online content.
Subscribe to DroneLife here.