Golden’s police chief wants to add what he says will be “an incredibly valuable tool” to his force: an unmanned aerial vehicle.
Chief Bill Kilpatrick gave a presentation to city council at a study session last week, getting their nod of support to pursue the purchase of a remote-controlled aircraft, commonly called a drone.
“I think it’s a use of technology that will be hugely beneficial to our citizenry in many ways,” he said later.
The model the department would like to buy, which is equipped with a camera and software, starts at $16,500, Kilpatrick said.
The police department has already experimented using a drone owned by one of its officers. Kilpatrick showed video shot from the aircraft of various situations in which it would be of use, such as aerial footage of Clear Creek, observance of traffic flow on South Golden Road, and an aerial view of a suspicious person on Golden High School’s campus that put the school on lockdown.
“What I’d like you to think about is just that this gives us a perspective that we don’t generally have, that’s an aerial view first and foremost,” he said.
During the study session, Councilwoman Saoirse Charis-Graves asked how police plan to communicate with residents about use of the vehicle.
Kilpatrick said the department will plan an education campaign about the aircraft and be transparent about when and why it is in use by posting to city websites and social media ahead of time.
“We’ll educate show people look at what we put on the police department web page and city web pages,” he said after the study session. “We are going to do everything we can to minimize invasion of people’s privacy.”
The tool would be helpful in cases of missing children or at-risk adults, and could also be at the city’s disposal for marketing promotions or traffic observation.
Kilpatrick said he hopes to acquire an unmanned aerial aircraft by this fall, but training and public education could lead into the next year.