News Views: Eyes in the sky

Thoughts on aerial drones being used by a security company in Maple Ridge

A private security firm that patrols downtown Maple Ridge has purchased two aerial drones – remote-controlled aircraft like those used in combat zones.

The drones cost $4,000 and $12,000. They have a maximum flight time of 40 minutes, are generally cheaper than flying a helicopter, and sound more like a lawn mower.

Each pilot must follow Canadian Aviation Regulations and hold a Special Flight Operation Certificate.

RCMP and other Canadian police forces use them already, for traffic control and tactical surveillance. Drones can also assist in accident reconstructions, provide live intelligence on potential threats, or support search and rescue operations.

But they are not used to spy in bedroom windows. They can, however, carry infra-red cameras and those with facial recognition capabilities, which raises privacy concerns.

The drones will not be used for regular patrols in downtown Maple Ridge, which already has cameras mounted on downtown buildings, and inside businesses.

Thefts and break-ins, drug use and drug deals, as well as prostitution continue to haunt the downtown area. It’s one reason why the Downtown Maple Ridge Business Association hires Westridge Security.

But the drones won’t be used to discourage such activity, at least not yet. More so they will survey properties by owner’s request, identifying homeless camps and marijuana grow operations,

Still, rules must be established for the use of the drones in Maple Ridge, to ensure images are only retained when there is reasonable suspicion they contain evidence of a crime or are relevant to an ongoing investigation or trial. The drones should only be used for specific purposes, which should not be decided by police.

Usage policies should be clear and open to the public, with audits and oversight, to prevent misuse. As well, domestic drones should not be equipped with lethal or non-lethal weapons.

Beyond that, they could save a life.

– The News

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

UPDATED: Two seeking Liberal nod in Ridge, Mission

No dates yet for candidate selection process

Snow and ice easier this time, on Maple Ridge roads

Pothole situation could have been worse, said roads superintendent

City of Pitt Meadows quell concerns about community garden being developed over

Latest Official Community Plan has mixed income housing being built adjacent to garden

Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows await Lyft, Uber

Licensing announcement expected next week

1.6-magnitude earthquake rouses residents from their sleep near Agassiz

The quake was detected 3 km east-northeast of Agassiz

VIDEO: Mass coronavirus quarantines seen in China won’t happen in Canada, authorities say

‘If a case comes here, and it is probably … it will still be business as normal’

Province’s oldest practising lawyer shares advice at her 100th birthday party

Firefighters bring Constance Isherwood a cake with 100 birthday candles

Vernon woman suing McDonald’s for spilled coffee

Woman seeking nearly $10K, says employee failed to put lid on properly

5 things you need to know to start using ridesharing in Metro Vancouver

From how to get started to where drivers can take you, heres all you need to know

Diners’ health tax not catching on in B.C., restaurant group says

Small businesses look for options to cover employer health tax

B.C. comic wins judgment after club owner slaps cellphone out of his hands

Incident happened last summer when Garrett Clark was performing in Abbotsford

Mayors call for ‘calmness’ as highway rockslide cuts Tofino, Ucluelet off from supplies

Ministry of transportation expects to open road for “essential travel only” from noon-8 p.m. Friday.

Owner surrenders dog suffering from days-old gunshot wound to B.C. SPCA

The dog was also found to be emaciated and suffering from a flea infestation

Most Read