Drone Regulations Set by City Council

By John Vlahovich/Paige Browning

Spokane’s city council Monday night unanimously passed a new ordinance regulating aerial drones. The city council approed the measure, despite hearing testimony about the ordinance not going far enough to protect personal privacy.

The ordinance's sponsor, City Council president Ben Stuckart, said his idea was the get regulations on the books before city departments started using drones.

He says if a department wants to use a drone, "you’re have to have a reason for having those". He says "You’re going to have data standards, privacy standards. You’re going to have to do public outreach and a plan for doing that. And then you’re going to have to come to council and convince us that all those are valid. And then we’re all going to have vote for that city department.”

Several people testified and asked the city council to delay the vote and add details about other surveillance equipment, not just unmanned aerial vehicles. Those people included Brooks Holland, representing the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington. They expressed concern about exceptions that are listed in the ordinance. They city will only regulate drones, not red-light photo cameras, cameras on cop cars, or police body cameras.

In other business, the council voted to extend the contract of Police Ombudsman Tim Burns for an additional year.
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