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Ala. Police Chief Shocked to Find Out His Dept. Owns Drones


“If we don’t have a specific need for this tool, why break it out of the box."

GADSDEN, Ala. (The Blaze/AP) -- An Alabama police chief says he recently discovered that his department has two unmanned aerial vehicles.

Gadsden Police Chief John Crane tells The Gadsden Times he learned two weeks ago the department has had the unmanned aerial vehicles since 2010. The revelation came to light after the Federal Aviation Administration released a list of agencies certified to fly drones and unmanned aerial vehicles. The Gadsden Police Department was on the list.


(Related: Where are the 63 drone sites approved by the FAA in the U.S.)

Watch this local Fox affiliate report on the discovery of the drones, which it states was kept quiet by a former police chief:

Crane, who was named police chief in February, says he doesn't know why they were purchased. The cost was about $150,000, paid through a federal law enforcement grant. The Los Angeles Times reports a Gadsden police department spokesperson as saying more specifically it was a WASP III drone that was purchased to help in drug investigations.

Check out this video from AeroVironment that shows how the drone can work:

Crane says the department's UAVs, which have video surveillance capability, haven't been used because there hasn't been a need for them.

“Like anything else, it’s a tool,” Crane said to the Gadsden Times. “If we don’t have a specific need for this tool, why break it out of the box."

(Related: Drones over D.C.? Metro police chiefs grilled on UAVs, illegal immigrants, cops on cellphones -- see how they responded)

He does note that he is very cognizant about privacy concerns regarding drones and if they were ever used, he wants to make sure the department would be adhering to the FAA guidelines.

[H/T Gizmodo]

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