Washington State Expands Funding for Law Enforcement Drones Despite Privacy Concerns

State, one of the earliest and largest adopters of law enforcement drones, is allocating additional funding for vehicle-tracking technologies, including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The Washington State has reportedly set aside $1.43 million for proposals, with the first round of grants funding 15 new UAVs for law enforcement agencies across the state.

Washington State Patrol's Drone Fleet

The Washington State Patrol (WSP) had the biggest drone fleet of any agency in the country in 2019, according to an Public Broadcasting article. However, Lieutenant Ryan Durbin stated that while WSP was an early adopter, their fleet hasn't significantly expanded since then, and corresponding agencies in states like and now have larger fleets.

WSP's pilot program for UAVs in 2017 was so successful that it became a full-scale operation, particularly after the Amtrak derailment on I-5 in DuPont, where drones significantly reduced the time needed to measure and document the scene.

Expanding Drone Usage in Local Law Enforcement

Despite WSP's expansive fleet, the distribution of UAVs across state law enforcement agencies in Washington varies. The newly-announced drone funding is aimed at local agencies for vehicle pursuit technology, but the drones can be used for other purposes as well, such as missions and providing additional perspectives during operations.

Bellingham Police utilized a K-9 unit and a drone to locate and apprehend a suspect following a report of a suspicious vehicle on November 11, 2022, in Bellingham, Washington. The incident took place in the 300 block of Van Wyck Road, as shown in a video released by the Bellingham Police Department. Photo credit: Bellingham Police Department
Bellingham Police utilized a K-9 unit and a drone to locate and apprehend a suspect following a report of a suspicious vehicle on November 11, 2022, in Bellingham, Washington. The incident took place in the 300 block of Van Wyck Road, as shown in a video released by the Bellingham Police Department. Photo credit: Bellingham Police Department

To receive funding, police departments must submit a request for specific vehicle pursuit technology, a detailed budget, a training plan, and a specific plan for implementation, use, and effectiveness reporting.

Privacy Concerns and Regulations

While officers emphasize the importance of UAVs in improving public safety, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) raises concerns about the cost to privacy. Tee Sannon, technology policy program director at the Washington branch of the ACLU, stated that “drones supercharge government surveillance by enabling the government to cheaply and easily see into areas where privacy is expected.”

However, WSP's Lieutenant Durbin noted that measures are in place to address these concerns, such as requiring law enforcement to obtain a search warrant for operations that may infringe on someone's expectation of privacy.

As Washington State continues to expand its funding for law enforcement drones, the debate between public safety and privacy concerns persists. While UAVs have proven to be valuable tools in reducing road closure times and aiding in search and rescue missions, the ACLU emphasizes the need for strong privacy policies and regulations to protect citizens' rights.


Discover more from DroneXL

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.

MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD

Proposed legislation threatens your ability to use drones for fun, work, and safety. The Drone Advocacy Alliance is fighting to ensure your voice is heard in these critical policy discussions.Join us and tell your elected officials to protect your right to fly.

Drone Advocacy Alliance
TAKE ACTION NOW
Follow us on Google News!

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: 3578

Leave a Reply

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