An overwhelming majority of Americans support the idea of using drones to help with search and rescue missions (80%). Two-thirds of the public also support using drones to track down runaway criminals (67%). Only 23% support using drones for speeding tickets while a large majority of 67% oppose the idea. Monmouth University Poll, June 2012
The opposition is no surprise to me. As a little girl I drove westward from Dallas in a wood-paneled station wagon with my mom and my Aunt Shirley to El Paso, their hometown. As it was Memorial Day weekend, my mom and I were to be on the look-out for highway patrol who might be inclined to ticket holiday travelers racing through the desert ( uhh, like us).
Somewhere outside of Pecos on Interstate 20, officers parked along the road waved us over. We were stunned. “Do you mind telling me how you determined my speed, “ said Aunt Shirley stiffly. “By the helicopter a few miles back,” said the officer. In our perimeter watch for police, we hadn’t anticipated a helicopter.
Aunt Shirley was furious and even madder on the long distance telephone that followed was my Uncle Ed, who happened to be lawyer. Later he tried to fight the ticket but it stuck.
Turns out forty years later the sentiments from that day still apply when it comes speeding tickets. Americans don’t want to get a speeding ticket from a micro drone says a survey by Monmouth University. “Only 23% support using drones for this routine police activity while a large majority of 67% oppose the idea.”
In the national sample of four potential uses of unmanned drones by U.S. law enforcement, three other had public approval:
- search and rescue (80%)
- mission-specific use like locating a runaway criminal (67% )
- and for controlling illegal immigration along the nation’s border (64%).
Among the 12 actual early-adapter-law-enforcement users of small UAS technology, none have stated catching speeding motorists as an application for their micro drones, which will be a relief to Aunt Shirley, Uncle Ed and my mom who represent the large majority of Americans in this matter.
More crucial to resistance is privacy which is addressed in the poll . “Nearly 2-in-3 Americans express at least some concern in this area. Specifically, 42% of Americans would be very concerned and 22% would be somewhat concerned about their own privacy. …16% would be just a little concerned and 15% would not be concerned at all.”
Of the twelve current Small UAS early-adapters-law–enforcement-users, not all have had procedural guidelines or presentation to share with their communities. Communicating how and when drones will be used ( policies and procedures) and what happens to video (addressing privacy by establishing a policy) to both elected officials and citizens with concerns is paramount to making emerging UAS technology a useable asset.
When I called my mom for the 2012 recount of the-helicopter-on-the-way-to-El-Paso incident I asked about privacy. “ I don’t think it will be a problem.” Her response reflects the 52% Americans who range from not concerned to somewhat concern about law enforcement’s use of UAS technology.However, she was still infuriated about the 1970’s speeding ticket. “Hhmmmp, we would have been happy to get a ticket from a motorcycle cop, somebody we could have actually seen.”
OnPoynt provides information and insights for the successful deployment of Small UAV technology by First Responders/Public Safety/Law Enforcement. Let’s find out how it works, when it benefits us as a community tool and best practices for the use of UAV technology.
Rebecca Noah Poynter