Seattle Police Consider Using Drones

seattle-drone--articleInline.jpgWe had quite a show last week as the Seattle Police held a public meeting to discuss their plans to use small surveillance drones for various purposes. Protesters made the meeting pretty much useless - lots of loud concern over civil liberties. I fear the coverage of offensive weaponized drones combined with a general concern over past misbehaviors by the police here have caused people to be especially suspicious of both the technology and the motives of the department.


The city is planning on spending app. $80,000 for two devices (which seems outrageous to me, but then again, I suspect they are getting a really good warranty).


I believe the ones they are looking at are the Draganflyer units (




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  • Good point! These people will wish the cops had one when a kid goes missing in the wilderness and a helicopter isn't available. They have already proven useful in search and rescues.
  • I had that same thought. Police helicopters fly overhead all the time. They are are 100s of times more expensive. The drones provide inferior capabilities. I'd say no matter what the police wanted these people would hate it and fight. I'm sorry but you'll have to look a lot farther East than Seattle for the source of your issues if you think Seattle Police are the problem. 

  • I don't understand why these privacy advocates are OK with police helicopters but not drones. I think drones used for specific incidents (e.g. car chases, search and rescue, search for major crime suspects) are reasonable. 

  • It's funny you say that, at the meeting many were thinking that exact thing. Who paid for that :)

  • That is just funny. That lady had me rolling on the floor. And the guy with the mask (You could pay someone to do that) that was awesome. 

  • Jesse,

    Not to shift the topic but in response, NY yuck ! I totally disagree :) NY Rocks!!! Now back to our regularly scheduled programming....

    Now on the drones in SPD, I think it comes par for the course here in the Pacific NW. They like privacy quite a bit up here, you should know having grown up in Seattle. So I find as a transplant that this concerns them greatly. I love drones, and I like others think the use of them is exponential. But I think we need to be aware of how they are used and in what capacity, also its very important that the citizens be involved in how - where and when they are used within local government and federal government when it comes to use with in the bounds of the U.S.A.

    Anyone considering a drone business wants to make sure the use is unrestricted under proper guidelines in the states for commercial use, involving the citizens makes it more likely that civilian use for small business will happen in the future. If we let the course continue at the FAA without more public involvement you will see that only the big boys and SLGs will have the ability to operate these and we will be stuck with hobby use only via VLOS under 400 ft. This industry has GREAT potential for small business growth, but not if we are restricted out because the public only thinks paranoia when they hear the word DRONE!! just my 2 dents....we need more public knowledge growth on the commercial use and benefits, instead of every week hearing only about who got bombed by the latest drone strike!

  • Moderator

    I think they will ultimately disappointed with the results. What will happen is persistent shared orbits by larger platforms. The intel will be sold to whichever agency needs it. Look at Afghanistan civilian operators are already operating large UA and selling the info. 

  • To be fair, I would be more worried about one plummeting out of the sky because they ignored the battery warning, or lost a prop than any risk of privacy.
  • I grew up around Seattle (thankfully not NY or anywhere around there... yuck!). People are getting way too bent out of shape over the drones. They're nothing more than tools, like the robots the bomb squad uses. I highly doubt they'll be spying on your weekend barbeque. The drones only work outdoors, so if you're outside, you're in public view already. Many people fear of being watched, when in reality, no one really cares what you're doing, as long as it's not illegal. I would support SPD having drones, or any other police department for that matter. I think the rain is getting to everyone in Seattle... the protestors need to ring out their panties.

  • I’m not for or against the use of drones by police departments.  I appreciate that we live in a country that everyone is able speak their opinion.  It’s too bad that the extremists couldn’t convey their point of view with some sense of intelligent.

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