The emergence of law enforcement drones

Published 7:00 am Thursday, April 30, 2015

Drones have become an ever-increasing form of recreation and avenue of surveillance.
Recreational use of the small remotely controlled flying machines has been a focus of media coverage due to the problems they could pose to commercial and military aircraft if a collision were to occur. No one wants to read a story outlining how lives were lost due to the inappropriate use of a privately owned drone.
Another use of this emerging technology is for surveillance, specifically for law enforcement and military agencies.
According to coverage provided by the Natchez Democrat, a Louisiana law enforcement agency is preparing to use these small helicopter like devices to track suspects and conduct surveillance.
Equipped with a high definition camera and featuring wireless access of that video, law enforcement agencies can potentially track suspects trying to flee into a wooded area instead of sending in an officer or K-9 unit.
There are some things that the drones won’t be able to do. Since their top speed is 40 miles per hour, they won’t take the place of cruisers for high-speed chases. Also, they are vulnerable to gunshots just like people. However, if a drone is shot down the impact to a law enforcement agency would be minimal compared to a fellow officer being injured in the line of duty.
Drones are becoming more and more prevalent in the air. But as their use grows some concerns will arise, such as privacy.
An aerial vantage point provides drones with a view officers on the ground do not have. While law enforcement agencies will have protocols and laws pertaining to illegal searches and seizures to adhere to, private citizens might be less inclined to take privacy into consideration. Views into backyards previously unseen would become commonplace.
In light of these soon to be prevalent issues, some form of regulation may be needed in the near future.

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