The Good and the Bad of Police Drones

The police force is among the growing list of drone users, not only in the US but elsewhere in the world.

In 2020, there are more than 1,500 public safety departments across the United States using drones as a situation awareness tool, a tool providing them with better information faster, allowing incident commanders to make more informed decisions. Most of these departments are law enforcement, from city police departments and sheriff’s offices to state patrol agencies. They all have recognized the benefits of drones. – Read more.

Drones have been useful for law enforcement in this pandemic time ensuring people observe social distancing. The US has joined other countries in using drones to monitor and enforce social distancing during the coronavirus outbreak. Police in California and New Jersey have adopted drones to limit personal contact and share COVID-19 information […] – Read more.

However, there’s the fear of the loss of privacy, especially as police drones are now equipped with artificial intelligence, giving rise to new civil rights questions, according to a report.

“Communities should ask hard questions about these programs. As the power and scope of this technology expands, so does the need for privacy protection,” said Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Project on Speech, Privacy and Technology. “Drones can be used to investigate known crimes. But they are also sensors that can generate offenses.”

An article published in September suggests that police drones need to be regulated.

Accountability, both to government and to the public, must be a key element of drone regulations. Some states, like Vermont, Virginia, and Nevada require that police publish annual reports on how they’ve used drones, and why. These reports should be sought on a more regular basis than once a year, considering how often police use drones today—and they should be made easily available to the public, not buried in official records. – Read more.

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