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St. Louis police chief reportedly wants drones to fight city crime

The police chief of St. Louis reportedly wants drones to fight crime — and the unmanned devices could be in city skies within a year if approved.

KSDK.com reports that St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson has taken the initial step in obtained a drone by writing Federal Aviation Administration officials for approval. They’d assist local police officers, Dotson said, during police chases and to monitor large open spaces.

"To help keep officers safe, to help keep the community safe,” Dotson explained. “For monitoring public space, things like the upcoming Fair St. Louis, baseball games for terrorist, suspicious activity.”

Drones are more cost-effective than a helicopter, which was used in a police chase on Monday and cost about $2.5 million. Drones, meanwhile, depending on included features, cost between $80,000 and $300,000, the station reports.

But Jeffrey Mittman, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri, said there are too many unanswered questions without local laws in place.

"This is a case where our technology has gotten far ahead of our laws and our ability to protect us from unwarranted government intrusion," Mittman said. "What are we going to do with the information that we gather? Who will have access to it? How will we protect against improper access? How will we protect against hacking of the data?”

Dotson, who is expected to meet with ACLU officials on the matter, said the drones would be used in public spaces with other types of surveillance with no expectation of privacy.

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