Clackamas County sheriff's office seeks FAA's permission to use drones

The Associated Press /

OREGON CITY — It doesn’t own any or have money for one, but the Clackamas County sheriff’s office has asked federal aviation officials for permission to fly drones to take aerial photos and video.

The department is interested in drones mainly for training. And while they might be used to look at crime scenes, they wouldn’t be for surveillance, a spokesman said.

The sheriff’s office showed up on a list of applications to the Federal Aviation Administration released after a Freedom of Information Act request was filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, The Oregonian reported.

The application comes as the Oregon Legislature is considering legislation to restrict the use of drones.

The Clackamas department has no plans to buy a drone any time soon, said Lt. James Rhodes.

“We just want to leave the option open for the future,” he said. “And the sheriff is not interested in using it for surveillance of any form.”

Seattle’s mayor recently dropped police department plans for drones after people raised concerns about surveillance.

Rhodes said new multi-bladed, heavy-lift drones, which look something like flying spiders, make high-quality aerial photography and videography possible for training exercises.

“We are interested in seeing if they’d be useful to give us a view of our training exercises from above. For example, we could use them to see how well our search-and-rescue teams are working or how our K-9 teams function together.”

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