Steeves’ Pitch of Police Drones Draws Groans

(Flying drone image via Shutterstock)

Unmanned police aircraft dominated Winnipeg’s mayoral campaign circuit Wednesday as candidate Gord Steeves proposed drones for the police service.

The unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) would assist with current flight operations, Steeves pitched.

“This is a cost-effective way to augment the services provided by the Winnipeg Police Service helicopter,” he said. “By using UAVs, we can improve safety for everyone.”

Each camera-equipped drone unit would cost $33,000 and are currently being used by RCMP in Manitoba and in other provinces to investigate crimes, infrared searches, tracking and surveillance of suspect vehicles, lost person searches, photography at crime scenes, illuminating crime scenes, and other uses.

Steeves said a trained police officer with a special flight operations certificate would operate the UAV by remote control from as far away as 25 kilometres.

The idea faced severe backlash on social media, citing a waste of police resources and city funding, while also raising privacy concerns.

— Staff