Boston Police Department Buys Drones, but Wants Community OK Before Use

The Boston PD purchased the drones to get new views of crime scenes, but the tools won’t be used until the community engagement process has taken place.

(TNS) -- Boston police said they have purchased drones with the intent of using them to capture a bird’s-eye view of crime scenes, but none has yet been deployed.

“While other area police departments have adopted aerial cameras or drones to capture and provide more comprehensive and complete visual understandings of crime scenes from an elevated perspective, no official use of said cameras has been permitted, sanctioned or conducted by BPD,” said BPD spokesman Lt. Michael McCarthy. “Moreover, in keeping with how the BPD conducts business, any decision to adopt new technology would only be considered after first seeking and receiving extensive input and feedback from the community we protect and serve.”

City Hall said police would not deploy the devices until after a “community engagement process.”

“No sanctioned official use of drones has been permitted or conducted by BPD,” said Nicole Caravella, a spokeswoman for Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “If and when the Boston Police Department uses the drones, it will be after a community engagement process.”

State police began using drones last year.

“We currently possess several drones that we use for motor vehicle collision reconstruction and to map large, outdoor crime scenes,” said state police spokesman David Procopio. “We are preparing to purchase a larger drone capable of flying in bad weather, for search and rescue operations.”

Bay State lawmakers are weighing regulations for official drone use. The bill would prohibit the use of drones to “track, collect or maintain information about the political, religious or social views, associations or activities of any individual, group, association, organization, corporation,” or other entity unless the information relates to a criminal investigation.

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