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Seattle Police Department drafting policy for use of unmanned drones

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 currently working out policies for how they will use the remote control aerial vehicles.

On Wednesday, the department released a draft of their unmanned aerial vehicle operations manual. In it, the department says the resource will be used “to protect the lives and property of citizens and first responders in a constitutionally and legally sound manner.”

The manual says the operator of the aerial vehicles will make a reasonable effort to not invade a person’s reasonable expectation of privacy and will try not to intrude upon Seattle residents.

Steps to protect residents’ privacy include turning off cameras as the UAV approaches crime or accident scenes to avoid getting footage of people or property not involved in the incident. The department also says it will not conduct any random surveillance with the new tool.

The public will have a chance to see, comment, and ask questions about the new technology at a meeting Thursday night at the Garfield Community Center.

The department also plans to put up a website for public input that will be regularly monitored to address people’s concerns and recommendations.

Police have said they expect to use drones in search and rescue, accidents, natural disasters, and unusual crime scenes.

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