Drone footage released of Vancouver police clearing Oppenheimer Park in 2019

Under the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act, drone footage has been released of the Vancouver clearing Oppenheimer Park in 2019 after receiving a report of a man being shot in the now-dismantled encampment. The use of the police drone caused concerns with the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, which would like to see all operations listed on the website of the Vancouver Police Department.

Drone footage released of Vancouver police clearing Oppenheimer Park in 2019

On Dec. 12, 2019, a Skyranger drone from the Vancouver police department flew 150 feet over the park and recorded 18 minutes of video footage as officers and members of the emergency response team were going tent to tent in response to a report of a man being shot. It was already dark when the footage was recorded with the drone's thermal camera.

The video was first released on October 20 to CBC under a Freedom of Information and Privacy Act request for any thermal imaging material captured by a drone or other means at the Oppenheimer Park between January 2018 and June 2020, reports Tricity News.

The footage and emails related to December 12, 2019, are now publicly available and inform us how the drone was used that night. The material includes a comment from Const. Thomas Callaghan, who operated the drone that night about “hundreds of rats moving around.”

“Nice job all around: dealing with an active shooting, locating a suspect, clearing for additional victims, addressing advocate concerns; and using the drone to maintain officer safety. Not sure if the clearing had already occurred when the [forward-looking infrared camera] was taken, but…interesting how many tents appear unoccupied…and then there's the rodents…lots of heat signatures. Well done!” said Supt. Steve Eely in a briefing note on the incident.

Drone Footage Released Of Vancouver Police Clearing Oppenheimer Park In 2019 1

A few months earlier in September 2019, the Vancouver Police Board approved the use of drones in Vancouver, Canada. Three unmanned aircraft were subsequently acquired to be used in cases that would involve missing persons, mapping crime scenes, and for disaster response. Smaller were bought as well for training purposes.

A policy governing the use of the police drones states that the aircraft cannot be used for random surveillance and that recordings with no ‘evidentiary value' need to be destroyed after 30 days. Footage that that has ‘evidentiary value' will be kept for at least one year.

The Vancouver Police Department (VPD) deems the use of the Skyranger drone to record the activities in Oppenheimer Park to be in accordance with the policy since the shooting created “significant public and officer safety concerns.”

“What I can tell you, generally speaking, is that when exigent circumstances exist that present a threat to human life, police are able to search property to deal with that threat,” Visintin said. “This applies to actual buildings [condos, houses, etc.], as well. A critical incident like an active shooting event in a public place, with one confirmed victim, an unknown suspect, and unknown number of victims, presents exigent circumstances that would allow police to act to prevent further harm.”

Meghan McDermott, a staff lawyer, and acting policy director for the B.C. Civil Liberties Association that has been consulted by the VPD said that the use of the drone in response to the shooting seems to be intrusive on the people living in the tents. McDermott is looking for more details to understand the VPD's rationale for deploying the drone in this scenario.

“They could have maybe met their objective without the use of that drone,” she said Thursday. “The disconcerting thing for us is the privacy violations of the people living at that park. The gross thing on that video is how they're going into everybody's tents.”

Drone Footage Released Of Vancouver Police Clearing Oppenheimer Park In 2019

McDermott suggested to the VPD that every police drone mission should be listed on their website, similarly to what is already done for the use of Tasers.

“There is no requirement for them to do that, but just for public I think it's a wonderful idea for transparency,” she said. “It would be a minimal effort for the police and it would have a big pay-off in terms of public trust.”

The drone program of the VPD totaled $141,000, of which $100,000 was covered by a grant from the Vancouver Police Foundation and included the acquisition of six drones, training, Transport Canada certification, and fleet insurance.

The encampment at the Oppenheimer Park was cleared in April and May out of COVID-19 transmission concerns. A new encampment for the homeless has been set up in Strathcona Park.

Droneu Marketing Banner Ad 1

Stay in touch!

If you'd like to stay up to date with all the latest drone , scoops, rumors, and reviews, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, or…

Subscribe to our Daily Drone News email.*


Submit tips If you have information or tips that you would like to share with us, feel free to submit them hereSupport DroneXL.co: You can support DroneXL.co by using these links when you make your next drone purchase: Adorama, Amazon, B&H, BestBuy, eBay, DJI, Parrot, and Yuneec. We make a small commission when you do so at no additional expense to you. Thank you for helping DroneXL grow! FTC: DroneXL.co uses affiliate links that generate income.

* We do not sell, share, rent out or spam your email, ever. Our email goes out on weekdays around 5:30 p.m.

Discover more from DroneXL

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.

Get your Part 107 Certificate

Pass the test and take to the skies with the Pilot Institute. We have helped thousands of people become airplane and commercial drone pilots. Our courses are designed by industry experts to help you pass FAA tests and achieve your dreams.

pilot institute dronexl

Copyright © DroneXL.co 2024. All rights reserved. The content, images, and intellectual property on this website are protected by copyright law. Reproduction or distribution of any material without prior written permission from DroneXL.co is strictly prohibited. For permissions and inquiries, please contact us first.

FTC: DroneXL.co is an Amazon Associate and uses affiliate links that can generate income from qualifying purchases. We do not sell, share, rent out, or spam your email.

Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of DroneXL.co, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and EVXL.co, for all news related to electric vehicles. He is also a co-host of the PiXL Drone Show on YouTube and other podcast platforms. Haye can be reached at haye @ dronexl.co or @hayekesteloo.

Articles: 3449

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.