Monday, June 17, 2013

CITY HALL EYEBALL: Council to consider drone restrictions

Posted By on Mon, Jun 17, 2013 at 1:48 PM

As of now, Spokane police aren't using drones. The department doesn't even own one. But City Council President Ben Stuckart is pushing an ordinance about drone use just in case.

The ordinance would require that any police purchase or use of drones in the city would have to get council approval first. The Seattle City Council is considering a similar ordinance.

"I think that as technology advances and surveillance advances and if other cities have had this problem, it's better to have this protection in place versus waiting for it to happen and then us be upset about police drones above us," Stuckart said in a Public Safety Committee meeting today.

Police Chief Frank Straub reassured the committee of council members that his department isn't eying drone technology now. But many people in law enforcement are considering the convenience and cost-effectiveness of drones compared to helicopters for police use, he said. (We wrote about this issue in the region last summer.)

"Someday there will be a police chief sitting here before the council saying, 'We need to go with a drone instead of a helicopter,'" Straub told the committee. 

Stuckart says he expects the ordinance to get a full Council vote in early July.

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Heidi Groover

Heidi Groover is a staff writer at the Inlander, where she covers city government and drug policy. On the job, she's spent time with prostitutes, "street kids," marriage equality advocates and the family of a 16-year-old organ donor...