While a growing vanguard of American law-enforcement officials have fallen in love with police drones, the debate over UAV deployment still reverberates from the Smallvilles of Kansas and Mississippi to the Metropolis of Philly.
Miss. Police May Miss Out on Drones This Year
Vicksburg police say they have no plans nor any desire to launch a drone campaign soon. According to the Vicksburg Post, the city’s top law-enforcement official considered drone use last year but has not built the expense into the department’s budget for the foreseeable future.
“There has not been any serious discussion about whether or not we’re going to go forth with it,” Vicksburg police chief Walter Armstrong told the Post. “We have not purchased one as of yet, and I don’t foresee purchasing one during this budget year.”
Harvey County Reaps Drone Harvest
Law enforcement agencies in Harvey County, Kan. say their efforts to put police drones in the air are just another example of the state’s pioneering spirit.
A combined force of six officers from the Harvey County Sheriff’s Office and Newton Police Department recently earned FAA certification, reports the Wichita Eagle.
Using asset forfeiture funds, the two departments purchased in total two UAVs, training for its pilots and a control station. While the drones are only equipped with normal, factory cameras, officials hope to add high-definition cameras as well as thermal imagers.
As with most police departments, the Harvey County Emergency Response Team plans to use the drones for search-and-rescue, disaster response, hostage crises and traffic crash investigation.
Always Sunny in Philadelphia for Drones? Maybe Not
Although police drone use has fanned controversy in the past, the City of Brotherly Love has raised the issue again and officials are lukewarm about the idea. During a recent meeting, Philadelphia Councilman David Oh asked his colleagues how they felt about law-enforcement UAVs.
“I don’t know how I feel about that, to be honest with you. The jury’s out on that — I think in a lot of ways, in civil rights issues and privacy issues,” Oh said.
Police Commissioner Richard Ross echoed Oh’s ambivalence:
“I don’t disagree that, as it relates to technology, that it’s something that may come. It may be the wave of the future. I’m just going to say candidly, I don’t have an answer for you right now.”
The issue arose two years ago when former councilman Jim Kenney sought to regulate drone use by police. “The police would have to get warrants for the use of these to surveil in nontraditional ways,” Kenney said at the time. “If you want to scale an apartment building to see if someone is dealing drugs or doing something in that apartment building, you would have to get a warrant similar to if you want to go into a house.”
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.
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