Spring Hill Police Department Adds Drone To Its Fleet

Posted at 11:07 PM, Jul 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-19 00:10:36-04

Detective Geoff Betts now has a new title with the Spring Hill Police Department, one that's been a long time coming.

"This is something we've been talking about the last few years," he said. 

Betts is the department's first and only drone pilot, and with that comes a lot of responsibility. "The cost of a helicopter is hundreds of thousands of dollars and this was $2,000. As a small department we can utilize this at a much cheaper cost," Betts said. 

It's uses will vary, from search and rescues to finding missing children. The list of soon to be missions goes on. "We're going to use it for traffic reconstruction, if we have a fatality or a major traffic scene," explained Betts. 

However, not everyone is thrilled with the idea of law enforcement agencies using drones. Tennessee's ACLU chapter is one of them.

Tennessee's ACLU Executive Director Hedy Weinberg released the following statement:

“As guardians of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, ACLU-TN shares concerns over law enforcement agencies using drones in our domestic airspace. We believe that drones should be prohibited for indiscriminate mass surveillance, with their use by law enforcement only permitted where there are grounds to believe they will collect evidence relating to a specific instance of criminal wrongdoing, or in emergencies. As they stand, our state's privacy laws are not strong enough to ensure that new drone technology will be used responsibly and consistently with our democratic values. Courts are still wrestling with the constitutionality of the usage of this technology. We need clear privacy rules to ensure that Tennesseans can enjoy the benefits of this technology without bringing us closer to becoming a ‘surveillance society,' in which everyone's move is monitored, tracked, recorded, and scrutinized by authorities.”

"Not at all is it going to be used for any type of, we're not going to be flying by homes, we're not going to be looking by windows or anything like that."

Betts considers his department's drone to be more like a new squad car, just with better perks. "It's a little more fun to operate," Betts said.