Police drones: Spokane city council voting on authorization

SPOKANE, Wash. -City council members will decide whether to allow the Spokane Police Department to use drones on Monday.

The authorization would permit officers to use unmanned aerial systems (UAS) to:

Record and document crime scenes

Search for missing people

Locate reported campsites in prohibited areas

Tactical operations

"It just makes total sense that they have something in their tool kit to help them respond faster, protect people, break down camps that could start fires... I think it's worth it," Karen Stratton, a city council member representing District 3, said.

The proposal does not include any purchases. Records show the Spokane County Sheriff's Office is offering to allow the police department to use its own drones for free.

The resolution is by Lori Kinnear, a city council member representing District 2, who said she only brought up the idea after talking with local officers. Kinnear pointed out that while the authorization for drone-use is a great tool for police, it's not seen as a viable alternative to actual officers.

"It's not a substitute for personnel. It's just something that's going to be safer for them and the public," Kinnear said.

Stratton agrees, adding that she's talked to members of her district who are willing to pay more taxes for more police.

"The people that I talk to are willing to consider a public safety bond, which would be an increase in taxes to pay for additional police officers," she said.

For more information on Monday's meeting and vote, click here.

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