Police Say DRONES Continue To Appear At Crime Scenes


Police have been reporting that drones are showing up more and more at crime scenes. The trend began earlier this year, but police say that far from slowing down, it has gotten much worse. This highlights the problem of rampant drone ownership and the potential abuses of the devices. Furthermore, it is serving as a wake-up call to many regarding the inherent abuse-prone nature of drones.

But the drone proliferation is far from something police are just complaining about, they are also actively participating in the drone race. Departments all over the country have been purchasing the devices to monitor towns and often the inner city. But when the drones are being used by others – presumably reporters, more often than not – the police seem to suddenly shift gears about the growing popularity of the devices.

“Here was a dead body still on the scene. We had covered it the best we could,” Lt. Brian Foley, a Hartford police spokes man, said. “You don’t want the family to see that.”

Hartford officers questioned a man who they believed operated the drone from nearby. He identified himself as an employee of WFSB-TV but claimed he was not working for the news agency that day at all.

Klarn DePalma, said “We don’t even own a drone,” the news spokesperson said.

In all, the FAA said that it has issued dozens of warning letters to drone operators. These can include orders to stop operations, but often do not.

Two years ago, Congress passed a law requiring the FAA to integrate unmanned aircraft of all sizes into the domestic airspace by late 2015. That deadline will likely pass without compliance being widespread.

For now, the FAA says they will focus on small drones that are flown under about 400 feet, for enforcing existing laws, and pushing for new ones.

Drones hold appeal for journalists because they would allow new perspectives and access, particularly in areas that are not reachable by helicopter or could pose dangers to people.

Matt Waite, a journalism professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln says that they, along with the University of Missouri-Columbia were ordered to stop flying drones outdoors until obtaining official government authorization.

Waite founded the university’s Drone Journalism Lab back in 2011. He said that once permission for commercial drone use is granted, journalists will need to consider important ethical issues, including the psychological distress the use of drones might cause to victims and their families.

“What is a permitted risk? What is a responsible risk? Those two may be two different things,” Waite explained.

“This is why you’re going to see journalists getting in more trouble,” he continued. “As a journalist, what’s the point of going to the trouble and getting pictures if you’re not going to publish?”

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