Seattle Police say their drones won't be spying on youon May 2, 2012 @ 5:29 pm (Updated: 7:10 am - 5/3/12 )
Simply put, SPD's drones, are just remote controlled helicopters that can take digital photos under "mission-specific" circumstances.
Seattle Police officers say that since news of their Unmanned Aerial System hit the street, people have been making Orwellian references and have told them they're concerned drones will "spy" on them.
It won't, according to SPD officers Jim Britt and Reuben Omelanchuk. Simply, the drone is a remote controlled helicopter that takes aerial photos and videos.
Britt said the need for the unmanned aerial system started coming up on SPD's radar because of the limitations of King County's Guardian I.
"I'd be chasing a guy over a fence and thinking it'd be really nice to have a helicopter," Britt tells 97.3 KIRO FM's Ron & Don Show. "It turns out those things are really expensive," he laughs.
Seattle Police use the helicopter to investigate accident scenes that span five or six blocks as well as difficult search and rescue operations. Police are also required to take overhead photographs for officer involved shootings.
But, what has had the cops taking a lot of heat are rumors that the drones could be flying over you at any time. That rumor is false, the officers say, the helicopter is used on mission-specific operations. "We're not on a fishing expedition," says Britt.
In fact, the issue of what drones can and cannot do has been to the Supreme Court twice. "Looking into someone's house, with or without the drone, requires a warrant," says Britt.
There are two drones locally, one operated by the Seattle Police Department, and one operated by the King County Sheriff's Department.
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