Police Announce Plans to Use First Responder Drones

(RightWing.org) – If you call the police in Denver, Colorado, you could soon find yourself in what looks like a scene from an update of sci-fi classic “Robocop.” The Denver Police Department is one of several Colorado police agencies looking at using drones to supplement human officers. They’re planning to use the gadgets to respond to some 911 calls.

On May 26, according to the Denver Post, Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Department sergeant Jeremiah Gates said drone technology “really is the future of law enforcement… whether we like it or not.” Gates was discussing the next step in Colorado law enforcement’s experimentation with drones. Over 20 agencies in the state are already using the unmanned aircraft; they help out with missing person searches, surveillance, and pursuing fleeing suspects. However, police are now looking at expanding their role.

The Denver Police Department was an early adopter of drones but retired its single airframe in 2018. Now it’s got a $100,000 grant to buy and operate new ones, and it’s planning to dispatch them to some 911 calls in place of sending an actual officer.

The idea is that where an officer isn’t physically required, a drone could attend, for example, to check out reported suspect vehicles. That would leave more officers available for urgent calls that need human action.

Denver PD strategic initiatives director Phil Gonshak says the plan is to have a drone launch station on top of each district house, so the machines can be quickly sent out to respond to calls. He said they could play a valuable role by checking whether or not there was a real incident before deciding to send officers.

Gonshak added that the department also wants to create a “dashboard” that would let the public track police drone movements. This could be a response to concerns by the American Civil Liberties Union about invasion of privacy.

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