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Seattle ends police drone program

Feb. 8, 2013 at 9:20 AM

SEATTLE, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn said he ended the police department's controversial drone program before the unmanned vehicles were even used.

In a statement Thursday, McGinn said he and police Chief John Diaz agreed it was time to end the program and refocus on public safety.

Two drones, purchased with federal funds, will be returned to the seller. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer said the unmanned aircraft were the size of large model airplanes and able to fly for 10 minutes.

The announcement came one day after a public hearing on the city's proposed ordinance for the drone program, The Seattle Times said. Many residents at the hearing expressed concern about possible privacy issues related to the camera-bearing drones.

The ordinance would have required a warrant before the aircraft could be used and would have prohibited general surveillance. A spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union said drones would have given police the ability to intrude on people's privacy.

The program began after the Federal Aviation Administration approved dozens of law-enforcement agencies and academic institutions to train operators in the use of drones, the Times said.

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