Shaker Heights Police to Acquire Drone for Investigations

The Shaker Heights Department in is on track to acquire its own drone by the end of the year. This move comes after several work sessions discussing Chief Wayne Hudson's request to use $22,000 from Law Enforcement Funds for the purchase, reports Cleveland.com.

Drone Capabilities and Costs

The initial cost of the drone is estimated at $22,000, with an annual maintenance cost of $8,000. However, Police Chief Wayne Hudson noted that additional features like thermal imaging could push the initial purchase price over $25,000, requiring council approval.

Commander Timothy Kohanski of the Criminal Investigation Bureau stated, “We're already utilizing this technology. We're just calling for mutual aid.” This highlights the department's existing reliance on through partnerships with other agencies.

Potential Uses and Benefits

The drone is expected to assist in various scenarios:

  1. Specific investigations
  2. missions
  3. Emergency situations
  4. Building inspections

Fire Lt. Dillon Crouse emphasized the time-saving aspect: “If we have the resources readily available, it can save a lot of time. And in a search and rescue mission, minutes can make a difference.”

Legal and Privacy Considerations

City Law Director William Ondrey Gruber addressed privacy concerns, stating, “A drone won't go anywhere that a person couldn't go without a warrant. You can't send a drone on a noise complaint over a party.”

The police department has assured that:

  • The drone will not be weaponized
  • It won't be used for random surveillance
  • Information will be shared on the city's website

Community Involvement and Oversight

Councilwoman Kim Bixentine suggested involving the newly-formed 12-member Community Advisory Group in developing the department's written policy on drone usage. This move aims to ensure community input in the implementation of this new technology.

DroneXL's Take

The adoption of drone technology by the Shaker Heights Police Department reflects a growing trend in law enforcement agencies leveraging unmanned aerial systems for public safety. This move could potentially enhance the department's ability to respond quickly to emergencies and conduct more efficient investigations.

While concerns about privacy and proper use are valid, the department's commitment to transparency and adherence to guidelines set by organizations like the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) is encouraging. As more police departments adopt drone technology, it will be crucial to maintain a balance between public safety and individual privacy rights.

The Shaker Heights case demonstrates the importance of community involvement in the implementation of new technologies in law enforcement. By involving local advisory groups and maintaining open communication, police departments can build trust and ensure responsible use of drone technology.

Photo credit: John Kuntz, cleveland.com


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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.

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