Drones are becomÂing more comÂmonÂplace in the US for domesÂtic law enforceÂment surÂveilÂlance. While theyâ€™re well known for the US militaryâ€™s use of the techÂnoloÂgies over the skies of Iraq and Afghanistan, theyâ€™re comÂmonÂly used now by police to record video images and proÂduce heat maps to betÂter mainÂtain secuÂriÂty when trackÂing fleeÂing crimÂiÂnals, strandÂed hikÂers, or even politÂiÂcal proÂtestÂers. Itâ€™s also a way for police departÂments to pull heliÂcopters out of the sky and save monÂey when budÂgets are tight. Drones have also caused conÂcerns and fears over excesÂsive govÂernÂment surÂveilÂlance.
This trend has promptÂed sevÂerÂal local and state lawÂmakÂers across the counÂtry outÂlines strucÂtures on how they can be used by police, and some are conÂsidÂerÂing whether the sysÂtems should be groundÂed altoÂgethÂer. For many peoÂple, itâ€™s an eerie presÂence that theyâ€™re rather not see hovÂerÂing on the horiÂzon. â€śTo me, itâ€™s Big BrothÂer in the sky,â€ť said Dave NorÂris, a city counÂcilÂman in CharÂlottesville, Va. NorÂris and his colÂleagues want to put safeÂguards on the drones to make sure theyâ€™re not abused. CharÂlottesville recentÂly became the first city in the counÂtry to restrict the use of drones.
The SeatÂtle Police DepartÂment recentÂly agreed to return its two still-unused drones to the manÂuÂfacÂturÂer after MayÂor Michael McGinn answered pubÂlic protests by banÂning their use. In OakÂland, Calif., the AlameÂda CounÂty Board of SuperÂviÂsors lisÂtened to the counÂty sheriffâ€™s proÂposÂal to use fedÂerÂal monÂey to buy a four-pound drone to help his offiÂcers track susÂpectÂed crimÂiÂnals â€” and then lisÂtened to rauÂcous oppoÂsiÂtion from the anti-drone lobÂby. Drones are becomÂing the focus of debate in govÂernÂments across the counÂtry as new conÂcerns are being raised regÂuÂlarÂly.