While they aren’t going to fly over buildings and fry computers with microwaves, drones managed by the City of Seattle may help during rescue missions, disaster responses and traffic accidents.
The Seattle Police Department will host a Q&A with the community Thursday night at 6 p.m. at Garfield Community Center to discuss the drones and receive feedback on SPD’s proposed policy that was released Wednesday.
The Seattle Times reports that earlier this year the FAA approved a small group of law-enforcement agencies to use drones, with the most going to academic, military and government organizations. In April, the SPD introduced a 4.5 pound Draganflyer X6 Helicopter Tech that go for $41,000 each.
The drones must follow FAA guidelines, like not flying at night, around people or over crowds. They must be monitored by at least one operator and one observer.
In the operations manual, SPD’s mission statement says that the unmanned aerial systems (UAS) “can be utilized in circumstances which would save life and property, as well as being able to detect possible dangers that could not otherwise be seen.” It also mentioned how having the drones would have helped in a crisis like Hurricane Katrina.
This isn’t happening just in Seattle. Last December marked the first time a drone was used to assist police in making an arrest on U.S. soil in a case involving six missing cows. A California sheriff recently requested drones and there’s talk over in the United Kingdom of using the same thing.
Reading through the comments on the Times story, it’s interesting to note how angry some people are that funds are being used for drones. There are also all sorts of privacy issues associated with the concept.
So what do you think: Is this an innovative and effective tool for the SPD, or just a waste of taxpayer money?
Previously on GeekWire: Bad-ass Boeing missile flies over buildings, fries computers with microwaves