St. Louis police consider use of drones in fighting area crime

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by KMOV.com Staff

KMOV.com

Posted on October 10, 2013 at 6:55 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 11 at 2:49 PM

 (KMOV)-- St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson is pushing forward with plans for a drone and wants to create what he calls an information center.

The idea is to have a place where officers can keep track of the growing number of surveillance cameras on the ground and someday, in the air.

The chief said he is just trying to be smart by using the latest technology to extend the police department’s ability to keep an eye on dangerous neighborhoods and solve crimes.

“These are not sinister things that crawl up the side of your house and peer in your windows in the dark of night,” said Chief Dotson.

Chief Dotson said drones, which cost less than $100,000, would do the same work as a police helicopter, which costs $1.5 million.

He said they’d only monitor public areas and one of the main uses would be police pursuits.

“this is a way we can monitor the individual, back off, not chase him at high speeds and when it’s safe for the officers and safe for the community, move in and make an arrest,” said Chief Dotson.

Chief Dotson also said other cities have a place where all surveillance cameras are monitored in real time, not for spying but to monitor and respond in real time. Much in the way that MoDOT uses traffic cameras.

“I think we can’t be afraid of the technology, we have to embrace it and as we move forward I just think we have to make sure it’s used in a way that keeps people safe but doesn’t violate the right to privacy.”

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Seattle’s Police department got a drone but there were so many protests that they got rid of it. That’s why Dotson’s not in a hurry and says a drone is still 12-18 months away.

He wants to talk about it and get feedback so everyone understands. He sees it just as a tool and nothing to be afraid of.

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