Athens police, other departments now flying drones

The Athens-Clarke Police Department now has drones, and other departments also plan to use the unmanned flying machines.

But they won’t violate citizens’ privacy, said Jeff Scarbrough, chief of Athens-Clarke County Fire and Emergency Services.

Two commissioners, Jerry NeSmith and Mariah Parker, wondered about privacy and how much opportunity members of the public had, or didn’t have, to offer input as government administrators crafted a new county policy on drone use.

“What reason would there be for (them) not being able to provide input?” NeSmith asked.

The drones provide a “real opportunity, even accidentally,” for police to violate people’s rights to privacy, NeSmith observed.

But protecting privacy was one of the things foremost in administrators’ minds as they developed the government’s policy on drone use, Scarbrough said.

“I can assure you that’s going to be loud and clear to everyone,” he said.

The policy also addresses such areas as minimum training for drone pilots,

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