Vancouver police say that they now have permission to use drones for crime-fighting and peacekeeping. Remotely-piloted aerial systems, have already been in use in other police jurisdictions across the world. Vancouver government released the new police drone policy on Tuesday, 17th September 2019.

“The system will greatly enhance our ability to keep the city safe. We are committed to full transparency with our policy for the use of the equipment and want Vancouver residents to fully understand when and how the equipment will be used,” Superintendent Steve Eely said. The drones will be used for investigations of motor vehicle incidents, search and rescue, crime scenes, and disaster zone response where there is a high degree of risk to life.

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“It’s a process to get qualified as a flight pilot and we have intentionally spread those pilots across multiple sections within the department including patrol, our Emergency Response Section, our Collision Investigation Unit, etc. Our hope is to spread out enough that we’ll have a readily available pilot.”

The authorities also stated that police drones would not be used for public surveillance, thereby urging residents to rest assured. Moreover, the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner, as well as the BC Civil Liberties Association, jointly developed this policy. Three drones in total have been purchased for training purposes. The department’s operational drones include a larger unit as well as two smaller units. The total cost, including training officers in using the equipment, will be an estimated $141,000 per year. Vancouver Police Foundation will be donating $100,000 to the program in the first year.

The set of regulations governing personal and commercial use of the remotely controlled units which were released on April 1, 2019, have also been updated by Transport Canada. Therefore, it is now mandatory for drones to be registered and for the pilots to pass an online exam. Furthermore, the minimum age for the pilots is 14 years old for basic operations and 16 for advanced operations, unless supervised by a person having proper qualifications.