Hampton council OKs drone use by police

— Hampton police can now use drones for some kinds of police work, under a set of procedures that bars their use to simply spy on people, the City Council decided Wednesday.

Chief Terry Sult said the department hoped to purchase a $14,000 drone equipped with infrared night vision equipment, but wanted a sense that council members supported the move.

The drone could be used to gather evidence about criminal activity only if a magistrate or judge issued a search warrant, Sgt. Mark Kincaid told the council. Kincaid has prepared a 14-page manual governing operation of a drone.

It could be used without a warrant for emergency situations, such as tracking a fleeing suspect, assessing damage after a storm or monitoring response to a fire but only after a senior shift supervisor, incident commander or the chief approved the use, he said.

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