SPD aerial drone could be used for surveillance -- but not to 'spy'

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SEATTLE —

The Seattle Police Department says an aerial drone it’s currently testing out won’t be used to spy on the general public.

The DraganFlyer X6 helicopter could be used to keep officers out of harm’s way. It’s only authorized right now to be used for training and evaluation purposes. Eventually, though, it could be used to peer down on barricaded criminals, hostage standoffs or to help find people lost in parks.

“It’s not designed to be an instrument that we put up for an extended duration to spy on people or to take extended pictures of neighborhoods,” said Greg Sackman with Seattle police. “It’s not designed, nor do we anticipate using it for, that purpose.”

The drone can carry a video camera, or even an infrared camera, to give officers an eye in the sky, but the battery only lasts for 10 minutes.

The department is still working with city agencies to develop policies on how and when the drone will be used.