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Boston PD Buys Drones, to Consult Community Before Deployment

September 26, 2017  | 

Boston police said they have purchased drones with the intent of using them to capture a bird's-eye view of crime scenes, but none has yet been deployed, reports the Boston Herald.

"While other area police departments have adopted aerial cameras or drones to capture and provide more comprehensive and complete visual understandings of crime scenes from an elevated perspective, no official use of said cameras has been permitted, sanctioned or conducted by BPD," said BPD spokesman Lt. Michael McCarthy. "Moreover, in keeping with how the BPD conducts business, any decision to adopt new technology would only be considered after first seeking and receiving extensive input and feedback from the community we protect and serve."

The prospect of police using drones more routinely, particularly for surveillance, has met sharp resistance. Civil liberties groups, including the ACLU, say the devices, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles, threaten privacy rights, and without proper regulation could be used to target communities without probable cause or judicial oversight, the Boston Herald reported Monday.

City Hall said police would not deploy the devices until after a "community engagement process."

"No sanctioned official use of drones has been permitted or conducted by BPD," said Nicole Caravella, a spokeswoman for Mayor Martin J. Walsh. "If and when the Boston Police Department uses the drones, it will be after a community engagement process."

Massachusetts State police began using drones last year.


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