Harrisburg police use company's drone, raising questions about privacy

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Sep 30, 2016 11:05 AM

(Harrisburg) -- As technology advances, new tools are available for police to use.

Harrisburg officers are finding with each new piece of equipment comes a new set of concerns.

A video filmed from a drone popped up on YouTube recently, showing a group of city police officers questioning a man sitting by the Susquehanna River.

And just as quickly, it was no longer available.

Harrisburg Police Chief Thomas Carter recently confirmed at a city council meeting that it was a trial run for the drone.

The use of a drone by law enforcement raises some issues.

Mary Catherine Roper of the Pennsylvania chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union says the unmanned aerial device has some value.

"But when you start using the drone to do things that you can't do with an officer, to look into backyards, to look into windows, to look in other non-public places without a warrant, that's when policies should prohibit the use," she adds.

Roper says the Harrisburg police force will need to put together a set of policies to make sure drones aren't doing general surveillance, but acting on a specific tip.

"What we would have a problem with is using the drone for surveillance on people that you don't have that kind of evidence about," she says.

She says officers should also make drone footage available if it's in the public interest.

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