by Patrick J. Paul

On February 16, 2022, less than a week after nine Phoenix police officers were injured in a fatal standoff in South Phoenix, the City Council by a 6-3 vote, approved more than $500,000 in expenditures on behalf of the Phoenix Police Department to purchase drones and to develop a program to facilitate crime scene mapping in high risk situations.

Phoenix joins the ranks of more than a thousand other law enforcement organizations in 43 states currently utilizing drones to assist in law enforcement activities making the jobs of officers safer and improving the efficiency of services. Regulatory concerns remain, including required public notice, privacy, and Federal Aviation Administration requirements, among others. 

It is estimated to take 3 to 6 months for the City to acquire the drones and provide them to the Police Department. In the interim, the City will work to develop safety and privacy regulations that will govern police use of the drones.