Amidst much controversy and uproar from residents and activist groups, Seattle mayor Mike McGinn has decided to shut down the Seattle Police Department’s drone program. A year ago, President Obama signed a bill that approved the use of drones to be flown in the United States, and Seattle took advantage of the opportunity. However, Mayor McGinn stated that the SPD’s two Draganfyer X6 drones, purchased with a federal grant, will be returned to their vendor. He wrote that the drone program will be shut down “so that the SPD can focus its resources on public safety and the community building work that is the department’s priority.”
The Seattle Police Department was to use the drones to view large crime scenes, disasters, etc. and to assist with search and rescue operations. However, the U.S. Department of Justice and many of those who stood up against the drone program found that the SPD should focus it’s efforts on the issues it already has on it’s hands, such as an investigation into the department regarding biased policing and excessive force. Residents argued that the drones would invade privacy and overstep the Seattle Police Department’s boundaries.
What is your take on the use of drones by law enforcement? Is it excessive or are they necessary to further protect our safety?