Are Police Agencies Expanding the Use of Surveillance Drones?


With little public attention, dozens of universities and law enforcement agencies have been given approval by the FAA to use unmanned aircraft known as drones, reports the Wall Street Journal. Documents obtained via Freedom of Information Act requests by an advocacy group, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, show that more than 50 institutions received approvals to operate remotely piloted aircraft. They include police agencies in places such as North Little Rock, Ark., and Ogden, Utah, as well the University of North Dakota and Nicholls State University in Louisiana.

The documents don’t indicate how the aircraft will be used, but federal legislators have asked the FAA to answer questions about the privacy implications of increased drone use. Among the other 23 police agencies and 24 universities on the list are the Houston Police Department; Arlington, Texas, Police Department; Queen Anne's County Sheriff in Maryland; the FBI; Gadsden, Ala., police; Georgia Tech police; Mesa County Sheriff in Colorado; Miami-Dade police; Montgomery County Sheriff in Texas; Polk County Sheriff in Florida, and the Seattle Police Department. Among the smaller agencies listed were Otter Tail County, Minn. (population 57,303), and Herington, Kan. (population 2,526), reports

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