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Auburn Police Department plans to start a drone program

Auburn Police Department plans to start a drone program

Auburn Police Department in the state of New York plans to start a drone program with seized drug money, but needs to receive approval from the city council before they can go ahead and do so.

Auburn Police Department plans to start a drone program

For the Auburn City Council’s Thursday night meeting, a resolution is on the agenda to award a bid for a drone system for the police department costing $66,900, reports Auburnpub.

The drone, a FLIR SkyRanger R70 would be supplied by FLIR Maritime USA. Instead of using the city budget funds to procure this expensive drone, the purchase would be funded by money that was seized from criminal activities, mostly drug-related cases.

Auburn Police Department plans to start a drone program

“This money is pretty much earmarked to purchase equipment like this to improve the ability of the department,” Auburn Deputy Police Chief Roger Anthony said in an interview with The Citizen Wednesday.

A council memo said “the Auburn Police Department is developing a drone program as an additional tool to provide effective public safety and law enforcement operations. Unmanned aerial systems, also known as “drones” have become commonplace in police agencies across the country. There are vast arrays of practical uses for drones in our police agency as well as other city agencies that provide a safe environment for our city residents.”

A public safety drone would be utilized as follows:

  • Missing and endangered person searches, day and night, thermal imagery.
  • Real-time situational awareness during critical incidents
  • Vehicle accident scene investigation and reconstruction
  • Support officers serving warrants
  • Fugitive location and apprehension
  • Crime scene reconstruction and imagery
  • Tactical operations
  • Assist firefighting efforts
  • Disaster response
  • Crowd monitoring and safety
  • Investigating armed and dangerous subjects
  • Hazardous materials observation

Anthony explained that the drone would not be used daily but only “in times of need.” the Auburn Police Department has drafted a drone policy “so that the privacy of residents of Auburn is well protected and respected in our policy,” according to the memo.

The memo also explains that, “Absent a warrant or exigent circumstances, operators and observers shall adhere to regulations and shall not intentionally record or transmit images of any location where a person would have a reasonable expectation of privacy (e.g., residence, yard, and enclosure).”

“You need a search warrant to make observations from a place where you normally cannot make observations,” Anthony said.

The Auburn Police Department specifically wanted a drone with a thermal camera and selected the FLIR SkyRanger R70.

“In my opinion, it’s the top available drone on the market,” Anthony said. “A lot of the pricing comes down to camera capabilities, which is why you have a drone. If you are looking for somebody in the woods, you need to be able to see that.”

Two members of the Auburn Police Department are already Part 107 certified.

Anthony added that “It’s just time to make (a drone) available to the city police department on a full-time basis.”

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