Seattle police drafting policy for using drones

SEATTLE — One of the first in the nation to receive permission from the federal government to start using drones, the Seattle Police Department is drafting a policy on how it will use the remote-control aerial vehicles.

Police have said they expect to use their drones in search and rescue operations and at accidents and unusual crime scenes.

Police will consider public comments from a Thursday night question and answer session at the Garfield Community Center before the policy is submitted to the City Council’s Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee, The Seattle Times reported.

The Seattle department was among only a handful of law-enforcement agencies to win Federal Aviation Administration approval to use drones, with the majority going to academic, military and government organizations, according to the nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Aerial drones can be as small as a hummingbird or as large as the lethal Predators and Reapers used by the military in the Middle East and Asia.

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.

City officials should take the lead in crafting strict and clear policies on what kind of information can be collected, how the information can be used and how long it will be kept, said Doug Honig, of the ACLU of Washington.

———

Online:

http://spdblotter.seattle.gov/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/UAS-Operations-Manual.pdf

www.draganfly.com/uav-helicopter/draganflyer-x6/

More in Local News

Departing mayor’s locally drawn portrait joins city’s pantheon

Artist Elizabeth Person’s portrait of Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson will hang with others at City Hall.

Inslee proposes tapping reserves, carbon tax in budget plan

The proposal also includes money for the mental health system and efforts to fight opioid addiction.

One dead in crash south of Granite Falls

Two cars collided near the intersection of N. Lake Roesiger Road and Hidden Valley Road.

2 women struck, injured while crossing busy roads

The first happened Wednesday night in Everett. The second was Thursday morning in Edmonds.

Lynnwood robbery leads to lockdown at Edmonds schools

Edmonds police said it was just a precaution as they search around Edmonds-Woodway High School.

Marysville 7-Eleven hit by armed robbers

Officers set up a perimeter and brought in a police dog, but the man couldn’t be found.

Snohomish man, 63, missing from home since Monday

He left without his keys, wallet and phone, saying something about going to “the river.”

Counties fed up with unfunded mandates may sue the state

For example, no money has been provided to install, maintain and clear out required ballot boxes.

Inslee budget solves school funding puzzle with piece of carbon

His plan commits to putting another $950 million into the system.

Most Read