Blue city that defunded cops to introduce police department drones

The Denver Police Department is adapting to the changing environment of steep budget cuts by turning to technology with the use of drones to assist officers in responding to 911 calls.

The police force is set to be defunded by $8.4 million as Democrat leaders look to make deep cuts to essential services to accommodate the mass of illegal aliens who have chosen the Mile High City as their new home and the cops will need to adjust.

Having previously been opposed to the use of drones in policing due to constitutional concerns, the department plans to use a $100,000 grant from the Denver Police Foundation to “kickstart” the program, the Denver Post reported.

(Video: 9 News)

“It’s beginning to lift off,” DPD Strategic Initiatives Bureau Director Phil Gonshak told the outlet, explaining that the goal is to use drones as first responders.

“The long-term scope of what we are trying to do is drones as first responders,” he said. “Basically, having stations on top of each one of our districts so we can respond with drones to critical needs or emergencies that arise throughout the city.”

Using drones would assist in reducing officer response times and assist police in solving crimes by collecting video evidence in the early minutes. Gonshak said that the drones won’t eliminate human police involvement.

“We would never simply replace calls-for-service response by police officers,” he told the Post. “The DPD would respond to any call for service where someone is physically requesting a police officer on scene. But if there was a fight at Colfax and Cherokee and we put a drone in the air and there is no fight and nothing causing traffic issues, then we would reroute our police officers to other emergent calls.”

The DPD isn’t the only Front Range law enforcement agency set to jump into the brave new world of drone policing.

“This really is the future of law enforcement at some point, whether we like it or not,” said Sgt. Jeremiah Gates of the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office which is in the “very early stages” of expanded drone use.

“I could fly the drone over (a reported suspicious vehicle) and say, ‘Hey, that vehicle is not out of place,’ and I never had to send an officer over to bother them and I can clear it with that,” said Gates, who heads up the drone unit. “It’s saving resources.”

Some don’t welcome the introduction of police drones.

“We’re worried about what it would mean if drones were really just all over the skies in Colorado. We are worried about what that would mean for First Amendment activities, for speech and organizing and protesting — because being surveilled by law enforcement, including by drones, can change the way people speak and protest,” Colorado ACLU staff attorney Laura Moraff said, according to the Denver Post.

“We know there is a problem with people reporting black people doing normal everyday things as if there is something suspicious going on,” Moraff added. “So sending out a drone for any time there is a 911 call, it could be dangerous and lead to more over-policing of communities of color. There is also just the risk that the more that we normalize having drones in the skies, the more it can really affect behavior on a massive scale, if we are just looking up and seeing drones all over the place, knowing that police are watching us.”

Chris Donaldson


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