Dallas Police say the department will increase its use of drones to assist in specific emergencies and criminal situations.
In a video released by the Dallas Police Department, the Unmanned Aircraft Systems, or drones, as they are more commonly known, will aid law enforcement with search and rescues, disaster response, missing persons, fugitive apprehensions, building searches, bombs and hazardous materials, dangerous subjects and planned operations, civil unrest violations, and crime scene photography.
“Implementation of these aircraft systems will provide numerous benefits to the department,” said Dallas Police Deputy Chief of Tactical Operations Division Mike Igo. “Using drones will provide critical on-scene information that will lead to keeping officers out of danger, protecting citizens’ lives, and providing useful information for those units tasked with investigating these crimes.”
The use of drones is also said to increase the efficiency of law enforcement response times in urgent situations. The chief made it clear that the department understands the importance of privacy to citizens. Indeed, a massive leak of over 1.9 terabytes of aerial surveillance footage published by a transparency advocacy group last year raised concerns.
Chief Igo assured the public that the drones will be utilized responsibly, with enumerated “do’s” and “don’ts” for their use.
Because the Fourth Amendment protects citizens against unreasonable search and seizures, law enforcement would still need a warrant, in advance, to search private property, except in life or death situations or when a felony is in progress.
Operators of the drones will be instructed on Fourth Amendment violations and how to protect individual privacy while using the aircraft and will be FAA certified.
Igo added that any footage taken by the drone would be deleted after ninety days unless it contained “evidentiary evidence.”
In addition to Dallas, the cities of Phoenix, Arizona, Washington, and Missouri, are also integrating the use of drones within their fire and police departments.