The Seattle Police Department’s two Unmanned Aerial Vehicles have moved to a sunnier climate and are now in the hands of our law enforcement partners at the Los Angeles Police Department.
The SPD UAV program was mothballed in 2013 over public concerns about privacy issues. The department had initially intended to return the two Draganflyer X6 mini-helicopters, purchased with a federal grant, to their manufacturer. However, SPD would have been unable to recover the full cost of the UAVs—which had been used—in order to fully repay the federal grant.
Rather than send the UAVs to live on a nice farm upstate, SPD began searching for another public agency interested in accepting the UAVs. After months of working with state and federal agencies to find a new home for the department’s UAVs, SPD was able to transfer the Draganflyers to LAPD without having to repay any portion of the federal grant
SPD Assistant Chief Paul McDonagh accompanied the UAVs on a flight to Los Angeles—the UAVs were checked as baggage—where Chief McDonagh turned the Draganflyers over to an LAPD commander. The Seattle Police Foundation covered the cost of the UAVs’ final flight with SPD.
LAPD is now working to develop their own strict guidelines for use of the UAVs.