Denver Police Halt Drone Program, Denver Fire Moves Forward

Denver Police Department will wait for further public input before using its drone or expanding its program.


By Marco Margaritoff

The Denver Police Department (DPD) recently purchased a $3,000 drone to aerially photograph crime scenes and collect high resolution imagery of potential evidence. However, according to The Denver Post it has officially shelved the unmanned aerial vehicle and the program as a whole. The reason behind this particular pivot is one shared by numerous public safety offices across the country: the public’s warranted concerns regarding the potential for invasion of privacy and encroachment on civil liberties.

Earlier this month, Fairfax County in Virginia delayed its own drone program to focus on the concerns of worried citizens. The Board of Supervisors tactfully decided to halt its draft drone policy to prioritize public input above continued use or expansion. While the Denver Fire Department (DFD) has made no qualms about these particular issues (and recently placed bids to buy an Aeryon SkyRanger drone, two camera lenses and accessories), the DPD’s drone program is officially over.

“We are not going to move forward with the drone program at this time,” said DPD spokesperson Sonny Jackson. “If we do, we will move forward with community input.”

Meanwhile, the DFD is steadily moving forward with its drone implementation, which is largely comprised of aerially assessing structure fires, analyzing hazardous spills and providing a bird’s-eye view to responders on the ground attempting to find and rescue people. According to DFD spokesperson Greg Pixley, the department wants to share its drone with fire services in other jurisdictions, as well.

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