As FOTM reported in April, there are 63 active drone sites in the US. The unmanned planes – some of which may have been designed to kill terror suspects – are being launched from locations in 20 states. Most of the active drones are deployed from military installations, enforcement agencies and border patrol teams, according to the Federal Aviation Authority. The feds are now giving public agencies the authority to place them into action.
Seattle police drafting policy for using drones
KOMO News: The Seattle Police Department is one of the first in the nation to receive permission from the federal government to start using drones. The department is drafting a policy on how it will use the remote control aerial vehicles.
The public will have a chance to comment at a question-and-answer session Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Garfield Community Center, 2323 East Cherry Street, Seattle.
Seattle Police Lt. Greg Sackman will be on hand with the drone to answer questions and receive feedback about the proposed policy. Police have said they expect to use drones in search and rescue, accidents and natural disasters, and unusual crime scenes.
Seattle police plan to use the mini-helicopter Draganflyer XG made by the Draganfly Innovations company of Saskatoon, Canada. It is operated with a hand-held controller and joysticks. It carries cameras that can take still pictures, videos and infrared shots. It is limited by a battery life of less than 10 minutes and an inability to carry more than 35 ounces – a little more than 2 pounds, police said.
The FAA has guidelines on how and when law-enforcement agencies can use drones. They cannot be flown at night or over crowds. The drones must be flown below 400 feet and must remain within eyesight of an operator as well as an observer at all times, according to the FAA.
The law enforcement use of drones prompted an American Civil Liberties Union review that found existing laws and policies are inadequate to safeguard citizen privacy.
Drones must remain within eyesight of an operator? I find that interesting as I live approximately 15 miles outside of Seattle and have seen drones flying over residential areas on two occasions. If the drones I saw were owned by Seattle Police, how could an operator see it so far outside of city limits? Why were the drones flying outside of Seattle?
And if the drones I saw weren’t owned by Seattle Police, then what agency was flying them?
“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Benjamin Franklin