I’m going to give a brief background on Drones/Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, and then discuss what’s happening locally in Seattle, as we receive our first Police UAV. I’m learning a lot, and am open to more. Please be in touch!

All About Drones

A Drone is a certain type of robot that can be remotely operated.

Generally, “drone” has been used to refer to a Teleoperated Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, or UAV.

UAVs have been in development for military applications for quite some time, and have been used in combat with more frequency. They have been considered a military asset, and fell under the jurisdiction of the Air Force. Under the Posse Comitatus Act, the military is not to be used within the U.S. as a police force.

After 9/11, concerns of terrorism brought attention to acquiring UAVs within the U.S. for local applications. New, smaller devices (though more expensive than most hobbyist gear) have been acquired and put into local use.

Let’s Have a Talk

UPDATE: The City Council has introduced a Draft Drone Bill to Committee.

You can read the draft here.
We can now voice our concerns to our Council Members. Let’s get crackin’!

If you’re in Seattle, come and Talk About Drones with us!

We’re planning our next meeting for the week of Feb. 11-17, please join us!
If you can’t make it, here’s a scheduler for the best time to meet. LET’S DO THIS!

Seattle’s Police UAV

Seattle Police Department applied for a Department of Homeland Security Grant and received a Draganfly X6 UAV in 2010 (with an additional X6 going to the King County Sheriff’s Office). The public — and in fact City Council as well — were only made aware of this when a Freedom of Information Act request revealed the DHS Money this year. SPD has started training on the UAV, and has stated that they have yet to use it, and will in fact not use it until their guidelines are finalized and approved by the City Council. (The Council wanted to ensure their input after hearing of the device.)

Approval Process

Where we’re at now is that the SPD is holding Public Outreach/Engagement meetings, revising their draft guidelines, and will present to the City Council before approval. SPD has given several interviews to local press, and has stirred up quite some interest, from individuals as well as organizations such as the ACLU. The first public meeting was held at Garfield Community Center on Oct. 26, and was attended with interest — as well as heavily protested.

It has been described widely. You can see for yourself here:


This is a very good overview of Drones, if you have the time:

These are some of the most dramatic reporting I’ve ever seen. Taken from a Robokopter UAV:

I have a large number of resources and videos to share.
Here’s a link to my drone playlist. Send links if ya got ’em!

This is a project of Forrest’s, though it’s a wiki – so if you’d like to add, I can share access…