The police chief of Gadsden, Alabama recently discovered that his department was the proud owner of two unmanned aerial vehicles. The Gadsden Times reports Chief John Crane found out two weeks ago his police department has owned the UAVs since 2010. This fact came to light after the FAA published a list of agencies authorized to fly drones and UAVs, and the Gadsden Police Department was on the list.
Crane has been Police Chief for just over two months and has no idea why the aircraft were purchased. The $150,000 cost was paid for by a federal law enforcement grant. The Los Angeles Times cites a police department spokesperson saying the aircraft are WASP III drones purchased to help in drug investigations.
The chief says the UAVs haven’t been used because the department hasn't had a need for them. “Like anything else, it’s a tool. If we don’t have a specific need for this tool, why break it out of the box?” He says he’s aware of privacy issues regarding the use of civil drones, and if they were ever used he’d want to be sure his department would be adhering to FAA guidelines. (Image WASP III UAV from file)