Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn announced Thursday that the police department has ended its unmanned drone program.
Today I spoke with Seattle Police Chief John Diaz and we agreed that it was time to end the unmanned aerial vehicle program, so that SPD can focus its resources on public safety and the community building work that is the department's priority. The vehicles will be returned to the vendor, McGinn said in a released statement.
The Seattle Police Department is one of 50 organizations that received permission last year from the federal government to operate unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as drones.
In October 2012, the Seattle Police Department gave the public a first look at the Dragonflyer X6, the unmanned, unarmed drone police said they would use to get aerial footage of crime scenes. The public meeting was attended by vocal angry protesters, who voiced their concerns over loss of privacy if the unnamed aerial vehicles were used.
City officials had develop rules for when and where Seattle police would operate the tiny surveillance drones, but some city leaders expressed concerns.
I literally have walked down the street and people stop me to say, I don't like drones. I hope you guys don't use them, Seattle City Council member Bruce Harrell had said.
Proposed rules were created to address some of the concerns. Under the proposed regulations, drones would be used only for data collection and not general surveillance. Use would be for a specific target, requiring a warrant. Drones would carry no weapons. Use would have to be authorized by a sergeant, and logs of use must be maintained.
The ACLU of Washington helped to write the proposed regulations, but the privacy rights group wanted video recordings from the devices to be quickly erased.
The full Seattle City Council had planned to discuss the drone policies in early January.
KING5's Liza Javier, Linda Brill and Elisa Hahn contributed to this report.