Spokane Police want to use drones for investigations & searches

The Spokane Police Department wants permission from the Spokane City Council to use drones for crime scene mapping, missing persons searches and other investigations.

The city council is scheduled to discuss the issue at next week’s regular council meeting.

The resolution is being proposed by council member Lori Kinnear.

The resolution would permit the use of “unmanned aerial systems by the Spokane Police Department to record and document crime scenes, search for missing people, locate reported campsites, and for officer safety tactical applications.”

The resolution states that the drone will be operated in compliance with FAA regulations and department policy. It also says a search warrant would be obtained prior to any flight that requires one.

The resolution states that the drone will also “decrease the likelihood of injury or use of force.”

Other agencies nationwide use drones in a similar capacity.

The ACLU has weighed in on the practice as well. The agency says drones have beneficial uses in law enforcement, but that “deployed without proper regulation, drones equipped with facial recognition software, infrared technology, and speakers capable of monitoring personal conversations would cause unprecedented invasions of our privacy rights.”

The ACLU recommends usage limits, warrants, limitations on data retention, clear policy and steps to prevent abuse and provide accountability.