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Drones In St. Louis? City Officials Mention Technology As Potential Crime-Fighting Tool

Categories: Crime, News

drone-file.jpg
via
"There will be drones."

So says St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay in a tweet yesterday on the controversial airplane surveillance technology.

Maggie Crane, spokeswoman for Slay, tells Daily RFT today that the mayor is referring to the federal government's use of drones and says that St. Louis may at some point consider the tool, but has no immediate plans.

"Do these solutions make sense?" she says, "And if it does, it's worth exploring as a crime-fighting tool."

See also:
- Queens of the Drone Age: Mizzou Journalism Program Will Soon Have A Drone

Crane points us to a short comment Slay made in a Post-Dispatch article published over the weekend, in which the mayor says, "We're proceeding in a very cautious way. First we must look at the technology and if we decide to use the technology, to what extent it will be used."

That article explores Police Chief Sam Dotson's "vision of modern policing," which apparently would include a drone circling Busch Stadium to watch for terrorists or silently pursuing a criminal who thought a police chase had already ended.

police-chief-sam-dotson-fb.jpg
via Facebook
Police Chief Sam Dotson.

Dotson reportedly wrote a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration as a preliminary step toward seeking approval for unmanned and unarmed flight, the P-D reports. St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce also apparently wrote to the FAA expressing her "enthusiastic support." We've reached out to both the police department and circuit attorney's office today and will update if we get more details.

In the meantime, here's Slay's tweet on the topic from last night.

Crane tells us that this comment references FBI use of drones in the United States.

Last week, it was reported that the FBI received aviation clearance for at least four domestic drone surveillance operations.

"They're here whether we like them or not," Crane says. "So if they're going to be here, is there a way we can use them as a crime-fighting tool?"

It's something the city will keep an eye on, she says.

Dotson tells the P-D that this is about public safety and that the drones would not have capabilities beyond helicopters and would not do anything that existing laws don't already protect. The paper says that dozens of police agencies around the country have submitted FAA applications.

Still, even the mention of drones as a potential tool for St. Louis has already sparked privacy concerns from groups that argue the technology is a significant expansion of government surveillance and can lead to Fourth Amendment violations.

If you're curious, here is footage of a drone in action, from Daily RFT's coverage of the University of Missouri's plans to obtain a drone for its journalism school:

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Sam Levin on Twitter at @SamTLevin.


My Voice Nation Help
34 comments
kennytheminni
kennytheminni

they need drones immediately most of the people commenting about not having them dont live in crime ridden parts of the city, we safe streets to succeed in life, bring in the drones and take out the fools

http://wp.me/p2PumG-ie

Mary Novack
Mary Novack

Absolutely NOT !!! Welcome to 1984 s right!!!!!!

Paul Howell
Paul Howell

I support their use over public areas, but never over residential areas.

Jimmie Thomptson
Jimmie Thomptson

it's not the drones that are the problem, it's the power hungry perverts that will be operating them...don't trust them...guys with guns looking in my business

Kirsten Parriott
Kirsten Parriott

I think there are much better ways they could be spending their money.

Carol Castro
Carol Castro

So Don based on your comment, if tomorrow in your neighborhood an ex freaks out and murders their mate its ok to use drones. Your argument depends on "high crime statistics". If in your neighborhood your crime is considered high you deserve to be under surveillance because your neighbor was unstable. This might seem like stretching the possibility but the real question is "Who determines what is a high crime area? Does 1% or 10% constitute high crime. Do you as a citizen "deserve" to e under surveillance just because you can't afford to live in a lower crime area? No. We are all protected as equal citizens. Our economical status is NOT a determining factor deciding if we deserve equal protection under privacy laws.

Aaron Wilbers
Aaron Wilbers

I would say its time for a new direction in St. Louis, but we all know the 'Pubs are pro drone as well.

Michael Mahler
Michael Mahler

They'll be shooting these down like clay pigeons on the Southside.

Janet Smith
Janet Smith

If you support this then you are a special kind of stupid.

Marita Donalds
Marita Donalds

Charming .. we'll have Drones watching the Guns .. Then we'll need an 'Oversight' Committee .. bigger Drones to spy on the little Drones! .. Anyone remember the term 'Fubar' ?

Don Lanier
Don Lanier

Ok to use them in communitys that Hi Crime statistics, ONLY, So if your area isnt or doesnt have Mureders, Car Thiefs, Strong arm burglarys etc no drones, but if they shoot people down on the corner each weekend, yes drones...

Kevin Malone
Kevin Malone

Property laws state that you own the rights of the air above your property to infinity. Let one of these invade my air space and KOW POW. it's mine!!!

Dave Brown
Dave Brown

Support. Fly them around Larry Rice's dump and get rid if the garbage

Steve Mincer
Steve Mincer

"Where is the party of "Constitution this/Constitution that?"" mayor slay does not belong to that party. THAT party can't get elected in st. louis.

Elizabeth Jaggie
Elizabeth Jaggie

I don't think it really matters what we think because it looks like it's going to happen anyway...I only hope that they put more Human officers on the beat to respond to what they see and that they have enough money to cover the lawsuit that I will file when one falls on my house...

Kristy Cognac Creighton
Kristy Cognac Creighton

I can't believe this is even a question. Where is the party of "Constitution this/Constitution that?" now? You know, guys, there's more to that document than just the 2nd Amendment.

Tictic Bump
Tictic Bump

A drone fro every man, woman, and child! :D

Heather Coil
Heather Coil

No drones. Ugh. How is this even a question?

Couch Pig
Couch Pig

will really deter the town drunks/homeless pissing and shitting in the parks downtown

Rachel Davidson
Rachel Davidson

No need for drones, just start actually punishing those that commit crimes. No more 5th,6th and 7th chances with nothing more than a slap on the wrist

Steve Mincer
Steve Mincer

what difference does it make if when you catch punks and send them to prison, they just get out and commit more crimes?

KITTY
KITTY

Fly the Drone 24-7 over and around north St. Louis. Hit the thugs and punks with a few Hell Fire missiles and crime would drop 90% in a week or less.

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