US Police Chiefs, Congress Issue Stark Warnings Over Surveillance Drones
Largest consortium of police officials says use of unmanned aircraft should be restricted; vehicles should not be armed; Congressional Research Service flags major constitutional concerns
Sept 13, 2012
The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), the biggest union of law officials in the US, has issued guidelines calling for a reassessment of the potential widespread use of aerial drones for domestic policing.
The Association’s national advisory for the use of unmanned aircraft notes that more and more departments across the nation are considering turning to drones to conduct search and rescue operations, traffic accident scene mapping and surveillance activities.
The federal government is in the process of rolling out new rules on the use of the unmanned drones, with the FAA announcing procedures will “streamline” the process through which government agencies, including local law enforcement, receive licenses to operate the aircraft.
Critics have warned that the FAA has not acted to establish any safeguards whatsoever, and that congress is not holding the agency to account.
The IACP advisory notes that police should, in all cases, acquire search warrants before using drones for any activity that may “intrude upon reasonable expectations of privacy,”
As we have previously reported, some police departments have expressed a willingness to arm drones with rubber bullets and tear gas.