The Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) is developing a plan to add aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, to its law enforcement strategy, saying it’ll help the MPD bolster its law enforcement capabilities amid an ongoing crime wave and staff shortages, reports the MinnPost. MPD Commander Jonathon Kingsbury said the UAVs can be sent into places officers can’t usually reach, like the tops of some buildings, and situations that could put an officer’s life in danger.
A legislative report by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension found that Minnesota law enforcement agencies used drones without a search warrant more than 2,200 times in 2021, up 93 percent from 2020. Nearly half of those uses (1,042) were “over a public area for officer training or public relations purposes.” In addition, UAVs were used “during or in the aftermath of an emergency situation that involves the risk of death or bodily harm to a person” about 23 percent of the time (512). While the proposed policy would ban MPD from using drones to harass or intimidate, collect data on protests and demonstrations, or for random surveillance of residents who aren’t involved in a criminal investigation, many residents expressed concerns about the potential for privacy and civil rights violations.