The International Association of Chiefs of Police is calling for the limited use of unmanned drones in local law enforcement operations and urging that the controversial aircraft — now popular weapons on international battlefields — not be armed, reports USA Today. The first national advisory for the use of unmanned aircraft issued by the organization comes as federal lawmakers and civil rights advocates have expressed deep concerns about the vehicles’ use in domestic law enforcement, especially in aerial surveillance.
Only a handful of police agencies, including the Mesa County, Co., Sheriff’s Department, are using unmanned aircraft. Don Roby, chairman of the IACP’s aviation committee, said an increasing number of departments are considering unmanned aircraft for such things as search and rescue operations, traffic accident scene mapping, and some surveillance activities. In July, federal lawmakers, including Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, ranking Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, expressed concerns about the potential risk of arming the vehicles as they are being increasingly considered for use. Some of the vehicles, he said, have the capacity to “shoot (stun-gun) projectiles, tear gas and rubber balls from 300 feet above ground.”