Assembly discusses ordinance to address drone use within APD

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) A proposed ordinance has members of the Anchorage Assembly, the ACLU and the Anchorage Police Department talking about the impact drone use within the force could have on Alaskans. As APD looks at adding a small unmanned aircraft to its resources for fighting crime, the city considers how to regulate its use.

During a work session Friday, assembly members reviewed the ordinance, submitted by assemblyman Forrest Dunbar. The document will be up for public comment at the February 13th Assembly meeting.

As initially written, drones can be used — with some exceptions. They couldn't be used for routine patrol, warrantless searches or in a way that violates a person's reasonable expectation of privacy. A second draft version of the ordinance, which has not been formally introduced, has been submitted by assembly member John Weddleton, written with the assistance of the ACLU.

Privacy concerns are a large focus of the second drafted version. "It’s a blanket prohibition unless you meet certain requirements," says Tara Rich, the Legal and Policy Director at the American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska.

Anchorage Police Chief Justin Doll acknowledges the need to honor privacy right, but also pushed back against the second draft, saying existing legal structures already protect Alaskans. "All of our policies are developed and take into account the existing law. We’ve never put a policy in place that conflicted with law because that’s just asking for trouble," Chief Doll stated during Friday’s assembly work session.

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