The Seattle City Council approved regulations that cover the Seattle Police Department’s use of unmanned aircraft systems. But the department has to start all over again, under the new rules.
That much has apparently not changed. Last week the SPD secured a last-minute revision of pending City Council legislation that laid out the operating conditions for the use of surveillance technology, including drones.
The unanimously approved council bill allows the police to use drones under three sets of conditions: when they have a warrant to do so; under certain “exigent” emergency circumstances; and in the course of a criminal investigation when the courts would not require a warrant for specified kinds of surveillance in public spaces.
Seattle Police Chief John Diaz asked the council for the exemptions. He noted a council requirement to always secure a warrant could create an impediment to investigations because the courts are not inclined to issue warrants when they are not needed.
The sought-after language was included in the council bill, but its last-minute inclusion offered the public virtually no opportunity to comment during a brief public hearing. Read More