Seattle Mayor: Fine, We Won't Use Drones

Outcry ends program before it begins

By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 8, 2013 10:28 AM CST

(Newser) – Bowing to a fierce public outcry, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn has decided to ground the city's plan for an unmanned drone program, reports Reuters. Seattle bought two Draganflyer X6 drones in 2010 using an $80,000 grant from the Department of Homeland Security, and planned to use the miniature, 3.5-pound drones in missing person searches and some criminal investigations. Seattle was one of a select number of cities to get permission from the FAA to operate drones.

"Drones give law enforcement agencies unprecedented abilities to engage in surveillance and intrude on people's privacy," says an ACLU official, echoing some of the concerns that arose at public hearings on the matter. The drones can remain in flight for just 15 minutes at a time, but opponents say they still represented a major overreach. "We agreed that it was time to end the unmanned aerial vehicle program, so that SPD can focus its resources on public safety and the community building work that is the department's priority," said the mayor in a statement.

In this Jan. 8, 2009, photo provided by the Mesa County, Colo., Sheriff's Department, a small Draganflyer X6 drone is photographed during a test flight in Mesa County, Colo.
In this Jan. 8, 2009, photo provided by the Mesa County, Colo., Sheriff's Department, a small Draganflyer X6 drone is photographed during a test flight in Mesa County, Colo.   (AP Photo/Mesa County Sheriff's Unmanned Operations Team)
In this photo taken Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn is shown talking to reporters in Seattle.
In this photo taken Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn is shown talking to reporters in Seattle.   (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
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