Canyon County to use surveillance drones
Tina Jensen reports. Video by IdahoOnYourSide.comvideo
Canyon County is one of the first places in the country to get FAA approval to use a surveillance drone for emergency operations, but its newness is raising concerns about how it will be used.
Canyon County emergency officials say it can help in the biggest emergency situations - whether to track a wildfire or help locate a missing person in the water.
“This device allows us to use our manpower better,” said Deputy Chief Steve Donahue of the Caldwell Fire Department. “So rather than taking our whole station down there – three pieces of apparatus and do something, we might be able to do it with one piece of apparatus and leave the other two to handle calls in other areas.”
But the newness of the drone equipment is raising questions.
Right now, it’s used in fewer than10 agencies in the country.
“There’s a potential for abuse, for example – why couldn’t a terrorist load it with weapons and fly it wherever they’re going to fly it?” says Lea Copper of the ACLU of Idaho.
Cooper says there’s a lack of regulation – so officials simply giving their word that they won’t misuse it, isn’t enough.
“There have been many times when police departments have not acted responsibly and have invaded people’s rights to privacy in multiple ways, so I don’t just trust him without written regulations about how these UADs will be used,” Cooper said.
Donahue says residents don’t need to worry.
“Our intent is not to use this to spy on people,” he said. “Our intent is to use this in emergency situations to help remediate those situations as fast as we can.”
The drone is scheduled to arrive in just a few weeks.