Americas Police

St. Louis Police Chief Pushes for Unmanned Aircraft



ST. LOUIS, Mo. –In Chief Sam Dotson’s vision of modern policing, a drone would circle Busch Stadium to watch for terrorists, or silently pursue a criminal who thought the chase was over when the officer in the car behind him turned off its red lights and siren.

And Dotson is working to make it happen.

“Criminals believe, and with some truth, that if they flee from police officers, officers will not pursue and they will ultimately elude capture,” Dotson wrote in a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration. It was a preliminary step toward seeking approval for unmanned — and unarmed — flight.

“If we are serious about crime reduction strategies, we must look to new technologies which help keep officers and the public safe and apprehend criminals,” he said in the March 25 correspondence.

Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce, whose assent is required, also wrote to the FAA to offer “enthusiastic support.” She declined to elaborate, saying through a spokeswoman: “The letter speaks for itself.”

Dotson said he would seek donations and grants to pay for the miniature airplanes, which run from $60,000 to $300,000 each — pricey, but still cheaper and safer than a helicopter.

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