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Howard County Police to test using drones for one year in police operations

Posted at 5:52 PM, Jan 30, 2020

HOWARD COUNTY, Md. — The Howard County Police Department is considering using drones in police operations.

The department announced a one-year field test to use the technology. This is the result of a recommendation from a work-group that researched the technology for five months.

They proposed purchasing three drones for the field test. Over the past few months, 10 officers have been trained to be FAA certified remote pilots. They will remain in their current assignments and will respond to incidents 24 hours a day when a drone is needed.

"Drones will allow us to access dangerous situations like active shooters hostage and barricade situations bomb threats and other life and safety emergencies," said Police Chief Lisa Myers. "We can better track and locate vulnerable and missing persons and criminal suspects with infrared technology."

Police will not use drones for mass surveillance that could violate First Amendment rights. They won't be used to violate any search and seizure rights either.

Images taken by the drones will not be retained unless there is evidence of criminal activity.