VPD says newly-purchased drones will not be used for public surveillance

Sep 17 2019, 2:06 pm

Vancouver Police announced today that they have purchased three new drones as part of their operations, but said the drones will not be used for public surveillance.

The drones are expected to be put into operation pending approval of the policy from the VPD board at a meeting this week.

If the policy is approved, the VPD will aim to incorporate the equipment into its operations before the end of 2019.

“Remotely-piloted aerial systems, more commonly known as drones, are used by police agencies across the country,” said VPD Superintendent Steve Eely.

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The system, he added, “will greatly enhance our ability to keep the city safe.”

The department’s three operational drones include a larger unit and two smaller units. In addition, three drones have been purchased for training purposes only.

In announcing the purchase and new policy, the VPD said the drones will not be used for general surveillance.

“We are committed to full transparency with our policy for the use of the equipment and want Vancouver residents to fully understand when and how the equipment will be used,” said Eely.

According to the VPD, the policy surrounding drone usage has been under development for “several months now,” and was developed in consultation with key stakeholder groups, including the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner and the BC Civil Liberties Association.

Police said the new equipment will have many operational purposes, including investigation of motor vehicle collisions, crime scene analysis and reconstruction, search and rescue, and analysis of a disaster zone after a disaster or major event.

The proposed policy, and accompanying report which outlines uses and cost, is available on the VPD’s website.