By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator, Friday December 14, 2012
Watch out: Police have an eye in the sky
It almost looks like a toy. But in the hands of trained Halton Regional police officers it’s an increasingly useful tool.
The four arms of the mini helicopter buzz like a really big house fly as they spin and the Aeryon Scout takes off outside police headquarters in Oakville. Soon it is high above the parking lot, “watching” Detective Dave Banks and Constable Andy Olesen, two of the four Halton officers trained to operate it from a tablet on the ground.
The unmanned aerial vehicle, commonly called a drone, has been a tool for Halton police on more than 30 missions ranging from photographing crime scenes to using a thermal imaging camera to search for missing persons.
It was used in September to seize 744 marijuana plants growing in a farmer’s field in northeast Milton. It was also used to photograph Burlington’s deadly Via derailment and the fatal Oakville police shooting of Kyle Newman, a short time after he stabbed his estranged wife.
Police are starting use the vehicle to photograph serious crash scenes, including an ongoing research project to see if they can take measurements from the sky to speed up investigations. They also want to begin using the drone in “tactical” situations, for instance if a suspect is on roof or balcony.
In August, Ontario’s privacy commissioner Ann Cavoukian issued a 27-page paper on privacy and drones in which she warned that without careful consideration they “may be extremely invasive.” (Source: Hamilton Spectator)