David McCormack, Daily Mail (London), July 26, 2013
Citizens in St. Louis might soon have to get used to drones flying in their skies after the local police chef applied to use the unmanned devices to help fight crime.
Police chief Sam Dotson has written to the Federal Aviation Administration for approval and hopes to be using drones in the Missouri state capital within the next year.
Dotson believes the unmanned devices are a cost effective way to aid his officers, especially with police chases and monitoring large open air events.
A police chase earlier this week involving a helicopter cost the force $2.5 million, while a police drone would cost between $80,000 and $300,000, depending on features.
‘To help keep officers safe, to help keep the community safe,’ Dotson told KSDK, explaining his reason for requesting drones.
‘For monitoring public space, things like the upcoming Fair St. Louis, baseball games for terrorist, suspicious activity.’
But concerns have been voiced by the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri, which says there are too many unanswered questions without local laws in place to protect citizen’s privacy.
‘This is a case where our technology has gotten far ahead of our laws and our ability to protect us from unwarranted government intrusion,’ ACLU executive director Jeffrey Mittman told KSDK.
‘What are we going to do with the information that we gather? Who will have access to it? How will we protect against improper access? How will we protect against hacking of the data?’
Dotson, who is expected to meet with ACLU officials on the matter, said the drones would be used in public spaces where there are already other types of surveillance cameras and so there is no expectation of privacy.