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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Slog Drone vs. SPD Drone

Posted by on Wed, May 15, 2013 at 6:00 AM

A map submitted to the federal government showing the SPD drones proposed airspace and practice areas.
  • Seattle Police Department
  • A map submitted to the federal government showing the SPD drone's proposed "training airspace." (Click to enlarge.)
As mentioned yesterday, the Seattle Parks Department does not allow drones in its airspace. It also won't be granting the Slog drone a special permit to operate in some discreet section of some city park.

But guess who was planning to fly two drones in Seattle Parks without asking the parks department's permission?

Back before Mayor Mike McGinn squashed the SPD's drone program in response to public outcry, the SPD applied for—and was granted—an FAA waiver to practice flying its two drones... in Magnuson and Discovery Parks.

Click to enlarge.
  • Click to enlarge.

Did the SPD ask the Parks Department's permission before (or after) if got the FAA's permission to treat two Seattle Parks as "training airspace" for its drones?

Parks spokesperson Dewey Potter doesn't recall such a request. Neither does Parks Superintendent Christopher Williams. I've twice asked SPD spokesperson Sean Whitcomb whether such a request was ever made. He hasn't responded.

All of which is to say: It seems a little unfair that the public should be prohibited from flying drones in Seattle Parks unless an "emerging public desire" to fly them can be proved, while the SPD can just take its right to fly drones in our public parks for granted.


Comments (19) RSS

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NotSean 1

Posted by NotSean on May 15, 2013 at 6:16 AM · Report this
Fifty-Two-Eighty 2
You don't think SPD might have a slightly more valid reason for doing it?
Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty on May 15, 2013 at 6:45 AM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 3
Maybe it is because the police (a crucial public service) wanted to use the space for training and you guys just wanted to dick around?
Posted by Theodore Gorath on May 15, 2013 at 6:45 AM · Report this
seatackled 4

They're doing it so they can take away your guns. Your guns specifically, not ours.
Posted by seatackled on May 15, 2013 at 6:51 AM · Report this
seatackled 5
Would the SPD even have to ask Parks for permission? I imagine that SPD might want to inform people about training exercises, especially if the training is going to be disruptive (for example, if they want to run a fake hostage rescue using the Egyptian Theater), but drones would be less obtrusive. Don't they have the authority to say, "We'll do this and you'll like it, Parks Department"?
Posted by seatackled on May 15, 2013 at 6:55 AM · Report this
I like this a lot, thanks for doing the research. Police are our neighbors and enforce rules they too should be held to. Public spaces either have rules for good reasons or the rules should be changed. The parks department didn't specifically refer to flying drones but watercraft etc. For safety, environment...? Not my area of specialty but maybe it should be looked at whether there is a reason at all.
Posted by Field_Mice on May 15, 2013 at 7:10 AM · Report this
fletc3her 7
Reminds me of the police car I saw waiting at a red light on Broadway a couple nights ago that decided to just go ahead and run it.
Posted by fletc3her on May 15, 2013 at 7:14 AM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 8
I saw a police car going really fast this one time.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn on May 15, 2013 at 7:29 AM · Report this
Ziggity 9
@8: and a bicyclist.
Posted by Ziggity on May 15, 2013 at 7:35 AM · Report this
Jubilation T. Cornball 10
I think this boils down to the term @3 used: "crucial public service." And yes, while the SPD could perform said services in the guise of stopping crimes, monitoring unruly demonstrations, tracking fleeing perps, and other such salutary actions, let us not discount the crucial public services The Stranger drone could perform: broadcasting images as it hovers over shirtless hotties in Cal Anderson, looks into the soccer team's locker room windows at Seattle U and live-cams the red hot action down in the Arboretum. For these reasons, I advocate an open skies policy.
Posted by Jubilation T. Cornball on May 15, 2013 at 7:40 AM · Report this
Rob in Baltimore 11
And why do police get to enter crime scenes, and not the general public?
Posted by Rob in Baltimore on May 15, 2013 at 8:06 AM · Report this
Chelydra_serpentina 12
Maybe SPD just wants to patrol for off-leash dogs.
Posted by Chelydra_serpentina on May 15, 2013 at 8:23 AM · Report this
TVDinner 13
Eli, I think you're taking this drone thing a little too far.
Posted by TVDinner http:// on May 15, 2013 at 8:28 AM · Report this
Do these things have aerial meth detection...then fly one over Kent East Hill!!
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on May 15, 2013 at 9:04 AM · Report this
MacCrocodile 15
Posted by MacCrocodile on May 15, 2013 at 9:16 AM · Report this
Will in Seattle 16
Obviously the First Amendment Stranger Drone should fly the SPD Drone flight path, to make sure everything is good.

And check for off-leash hamsters. Those are dangerous. I hear one took down a guy dribbling a basketball down the coast.
Posted by Will in Seattle on May 15, 2013 at 10:43 AM · Report this
Eli Sanders 17
@13: Wasn't me!
Posted by Eli Sanders on May 15, 2013 at 11:40 AM · Report this
Eli wrote, "before Mayor Mike McGinn squashed the SPD's drone program in response to public outcry"

Though I would like to think the mayor did this directly in response to concerns expressed by the people he serves, I think it would be more accurate to phrase that as, "before Mayor Mike McGinn squashed the SPD's drone program in response to the threat that his mayoral competitor Bruce Harrell would do something about it first."
Posted by Phil M on May 15, 2013 at 12:46 PM · Report this
I am not sure it is genuine to complain about attempted rapes in city parks, and also complain about city people patrolling city parks. I'm fine with drone patrols in public places.
Posted by wxPDX on May 15, 2013 at 4:15 PM · Report this

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