Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

City hears pitch for policy limiting use of drones by police department

May 28, 2013


City commissioners were urged to make Lawrence one of the few cities in the country adopting a policy limiting the use of drones by police departments and other city agencies.

Commissioners at their weekly meeting made no promises that they would bring such an ordinance up for debate, but said they thought it was unlikely the city would be purchasing drones anytime in the foreseeable future.

“I can bet when we consider the budget this summer, there will be no money for drones in it,” City Commissioner Mike Amyx.

Lawrence resident Ben Jones spoke on behalf of a group of about 12 residents who said they are concerned about the possible civil liberty violations that could occur if police departments start using the drones for surveillance. The group also is concerned that police drones in the future may start carrying weapons that could be used to control crowds and respond to other threats.

Several states and at least one other city — Charlottesville, Va. — have created policies limiting how municipalities can use drones.

Mayor Mike Dever said he wanted to learn more about the issue before deciding on whether such a policy should be proposed for Lawrence.


eljakeo 4 years, 11 months ago

I am picturing an ultra-liberal's worst nightmare: Lawrence PD drones firing GMO soybeans into a marijuana legalization protest. I can see why they're worried!

Kathleen Ammel 4 years, 11 months ago

The article fails to mention that Mayor Dever admitted that while it was a sure thing that money would not be in the budget to purchase drones this summer, sometimes federal funds are available to make special purchases, such as the armored tactical vehicle recently purchased by the city.

bearded_gnome 4 years, 11 months ago

more than just cameras on the UAV's.

and doesn't take only purchases to get them into Lawrence skies.

further, understand that they're already in personal use by individuals.

technology marches on.

TocquevillesGhost 4 years, 11 months ago

Drones pose serious privacy concerns, so I'm glad to see the Commission considering this issue. They need to follow through and pass a resolution. If we're not careful in protecting civil liberties by placing restrictions on new technology, it will be 1984 before we know it.

uncleandyt 4 years, 11 months ago

The price of chocolate is going down. Tag your Friends ! Where did you go to school? This information will not be shared with anyone we wouldn't share it with. We will need your thumb print. Please, pee in this cup. Sugar substitutes will make us healthier ! We have always been at war with terror.

somebodynew 4 years, 11 months ago

And if you think the Police are the ONLY group you need to "worry" about having/using drones then you are really not paying attention. I would rather see an ordinance making it so LEOs are the only ones who could use them.

Just think what Chad would see with the LJW's drone ?? (shudder)

buffalo63 4 years, 11 months ago

I can only imagine the humor that would come from Chad's writing if he had a drone. I have seen some "amazing" sights when people think "no one is looking". Just think of the sights he would discover to write about! I am more worried about anyone else having a drone that the public would have no idea who to hold responsible if something went wrong. How about an ordinance about driverless vehicles?

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 4 years, 11 months ago

How totally ridiculous. A drone with a camera is no different than police helicopters used in large cities, and previously in Topeka. I do not think it likely that drones with weapons will ever be in the skies over Douglas County, unless a second revolutionary war, or a second civil war erupts. I would be concerned more about that than I would armed drones.

gatekeeper 4 years, 11 months ago

You want to bet. I know someone that spent over $2000 on an incredible little remote helicopter that has some pretty good camera equipment on it. It's very quiet and he can sneak it right up to your window and film what ever you are doing. They are a total invasion of privacy. You at least know when a helicopter is overhead, not all these little drone type toys.

Thomas Bryce Jr. 4 years, 11 months ago

Can it out run 00 Buck shot? Then it won't be worth $2000 very long.

gatekeeper 4 years, 11 months ago

Nope, but you would have to see it and know it's there. By the time you got your gun, it would be gone because they're watching you and will know you're going to get your gun. Seriously, these things are scary and anyone with enough cash can order one today.

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 4 years, 11 months ago

I was talking about the full size drones that our government uses. We live in the county. If one of the small ones looks in my window they won't see much, besides I have a dog with excellent hearing who would alert me to it's presence. Then I would shoot it down.

Matthew Herbert 4 years, 11 months ago

Let me see if I can sum up the city commission this term so far: Handing out a no-bid infrastructure contract to a contractor with a sketchy history, Re-writing city code to Mandate tornado shelters in every building in Lawrence because 1 person has died here in 100 years, passing a city law flying directly in the face of a state law that will clearly end up in litigation that we will lose and now spending time worrying about Douglas County drone strikes. Have I forgotten something? This comedy is only in act 1!

somebodynew 4 years, 11 months ago

Well, first problem is that the no-bid contract was done BEFORE the election for this group. And the City Commission did not bring up the idea of the drones - a group wanted to talk before the Commission, which they gave them their due time.

patkindle 4 years, 11 months ago

I suspect the only folks that should be afraid of drones are those who perform illegal acts, and those who don't wear tin foil hats

gatekeeper 4 years, 11 months ago

So, you don't think citizens should have an ounce of privacy in their own homes, huh? That's the American spirit! Can we have these drones monitor your home 24/7 and invade your privacy?

eljakeo 4 years, 11 months ago

Oh, they have drones with x-ray vision now? And even if they had them, do you really think the city police would spend 24/7 staring at random citizens' houses?

tomatogrower 4 years, 11 months ago

“I can bet when we consider the budget this summer, there will be no money for drones in it,” City Commissioner Mike Amyx.

They probably don't even have enough money for a much needed building. It's really a non issue that a paranoid group is bringing up, even though it hasn't been considered.

jayhawklawrence 4 years, 11 months ago

This is one of those really dumb issues that get put on the front burner because of a worthless politician looking for an issue to exploit while the actual responsibility of governing always gets screwed up.

I wish we would not waste our time on this.

skull 4 years, 11 months ago

Good thing the state government already dealt with this issue instead of passing a budget.

jack22 4 years, 11 months ago

The police need drones to make their job easier. Just think of how this will cut down on them having to get out of their car and actually talk to people. With drones they won't have to walk up and down Mass. St. getting to know their neighbors. Heck, they won't even have to leave the station except when they have to arrest someone. And if the police have a picture from a drone of someone doing something illegal that'll be all the evidence they'll need to convict. Remember, pictures don't lie.

Liberty275 4 years, 11 months ago

How about if they put lights and a siiireeeeen on the drone and then all they would need to do is add a PA system and they can tell people to come down to the jail for arrest if they break the law.

"Sir, this is Lawrence Police Drone A1. You are hereby instructed to stop mugging that drunk fellow and come to the jailhouse. Bring the drunk guy with you. Pubic intoxication two-fer! Thank you. for your cooperation."

With all the fines, they'll have enough to buy a rover to patrol Mass and make sure nobody takes up more than their legally allotted sidewalk area.

It is wonderful living in a town so progressive we can talk about getting things like drones to watch over the population.

Also, I commend you on realizing how much a drone will make things easier for the police. That's a kind and considerate thought for our often-derided men in blue.

BaneMaler 4 years, 11 months ago

Just to highlight a few points from the meeting:

-This project is supported by many community groups in Lawrence like the ACLU, as well as the Republican, Democrats, and Libertarian parties. 4th Amendment protections are NOT a partisan issue.

-Dever suggested that like the grant given for an armored vehicle for the police, similar federal grants will likely be made available for drones

-Drone tech is being researched and developed in very few places in the country but the pilots of tomorrow are being educated and trained at KSU.

-Several Wichita aerospace lobbies are currently producing drone tech here in Kansas and will be looking for domestic buyers as the prices go down.

-Drones can be more cost effective than police considering payroll, retirement, and other benefits police currently enjoy.

The reality of their use is not just limited to law enforcement, they have also been considered for search and rescue, weather information, and land surveying. The point is to prevent abuse and protect individual rights by getting ahead of the issue. Learn more:

jack22 4 years, 11 months ago

It's good to know the police and government are going to have new and better ways to spy on us. It's not enough that the government and American corporations collect our email, web searches, credit card purchases, etc. And I like that line of thinking that if you're not doing anything illegal you don't have anything to worry about. I'll bet that was the same line more or less used by dictators like Stalin back in the day. Bring on the police state. It can't happen here, right?

Armored_One 4 years, 11 months ago

147 sworn officers on the Lawrence police department roster.

Somewhere between 80 and 90 thousand residents, plus another 15 to 25 thousand college students.

Why are they more worried about the 147 compared to the larger number? Are Amendment rights unable to be violated by citizens that are not in law enforcement? Is the right to privacy not as important if it's your neighbor peeping in the second story window with a remote helicopter than if it were a police officer?

I just adore how Lawrence cops are such horrendous people, violating all sorts of rights and laws. My family has lived here for over 100 years, all told. Never heard about, or read about, any of them being repressed by the police here.

Assume that one percent of the population of Lawrence was ready, willing and capable of violating the same Amendments as the police are feared of breaking. That is still 800-900 people, or roughly about 5 times as many police officers as Lawrence employs, according to the police website.

jack22 4 years, 11 months ago

I'm worried about all of the uses of drones, not just with the police. I think it would be best if all drones were illegal to use in residential areas no matter who was using them. The only exception I'd make is for those being used in case of emergency, to deliver food, supplies, and other emergency/disaster related purposes.

Liberty275 4 years, 11 months ago

"Are Amendment rights unable to be violated by citizens that are not in law enforcement?"

The constitution binds the government, not the people.

pti3 4 years, 11 months ago

Thank you to the ACLU and the concerned citizens who spoke out against drone use in our city.

The Program - William Binney Interview

jack22 4 years, 11 months ago

Or government would never lie to us, spy on us, or use propaganda to sway public opinion. No, that's what our enemies do, not our government. As long as you buy the right products, vote for the right party, and don't object to their policies or laws, you've got nothing to worry about. Trust us, we're the police/government, we won't use those drones for nefarious purposes.

Patricia Davis 4 years, 11 months ago

OMG what Ron Olin would have done to have drone power!

bearded_gnome 4 years, 11 months ago

nothing to hide from a totally benevolent government, eh?

ever heard of the current IRS scandal? demanding the content of groups' prayers, for example. yes, give people like these drone powers. yeah, right.

again, note that there's much more than cameras they're stickin' on them UAV's now.

and far more than police departmens you should worry about with them!

bearded_gnome 4 years, 11 months ago

I should only worry about these if I have something to hide???

oh really. I should so easily surrender my right to privacy of my person and my papers?

"we're from the government, and we're here to help you!" lol

Commenting has been disabled for this item.