Dallas police pursue drones for department, vow that they will not be used to spy on people

Authorities in Dallas are pursuing the use of drones to assist in their duties to locate suspects and access areas that are unreachable by helicopters.

Paul Stokes, Dallas assistant police chief, outlined the department’s planned use of the drones during a recent city council briefing, saying the technology would allow officers to make sure a building is clear before entering, assist in fires and large protests and help identify suspects, the Dallas Morning News reported on Monday.

According to FOX 4, it seems as council members approved of the idea, with Councilwoman Sandy Greyson calling drones “such cool technology.”

“I can see 100 different uses,” she told the station.

Drone use in law enforcement has been a privacy concern raised by the community, and something Stokes was quick to ensure would not be compromised.

“We're not going to just launch these aircraft spying on people,” Stokes said according to the station. “These will be very mission-specific incidents when we'll launch these.”

The Dallas Morning News also notes that the drones have a short battery life -- about 30 minutes -- and that officers are required to see the drone at all times while flying it unless otherwise approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The department is hoping to buy five drones at a total cost of about $100,000 dollars, which would also need to be approved by the FAA for use in the crowded airspace in Dallas.

According to FOX 4, police in Arlington have been using drones for the last five years.

In 2016, Dallas police used a bomb-disposal robot to kill a suspect who had fatally shot five officers by rigging an explosive device to its extension arm. Experts believed the operation was a first for U.S. law enforcement.