Editorial: Drone valid police tool

PETER O'NEILL
Last updated 07:14 27/12/2012
Opinion poll

Should the police be able to use drones?

Sure, why not? It gives them an extra tool to solve crime or search for people.

No, it allows them to overstep their authority more easily.

I'm undecided.

Vote Result

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The police have just bought a drone, this being an unmanned flying machine with a warhead strapped underneath.

No wait, they're the American ones.

Our one has just a camera.

Boring.

But still the civil libertarians kick up. Really, you've got to wonder where John Minto and his Global Peace and Justice friends come from sometimes.

So if a family member were kidnapped, and a drone might be used in the search, they'd turn it down on principle? Yeah right.

Sure, the police get it wrong sometimes - Te Urewera and Kim Dotcom spring to mind - but there are consequences when they do. We already have the counter-balances to abuse and search warrants before filming should be required here.

But every police district should have a drone.

They'd be useful looking for missing people, in car chases, in armed offenders callouts, as a deterrent in mob situations, and in checking to see how long the queue is at McDonald's.

Imagine a drone at the Jan Molenaar standoff in Napier three years ago, or Aromoana 22 years ago.

I have nothing against police using as much new technology as they can . . . because the crims are.

North Shore police are using Facebook to identify naughty people caught on camera. Excellent.

Again, every police district should have such a page.

Nationally, police have used Facebook to look for runaway teens, with great success.

With smartphones today everyone is a potential evidence gatherer, and police should be proactive in inviting photos, audio and video from members of the public.

Sure, it would have to be verified, but it could be a great starting point to investigations.

The frontline of policing could be undergoing a face change . . . to pimply faced people sitting in front of a computer screen.

Nothing wrong with that.

And there's a simple way to stop any of this becoming an issue.

Don't break the law.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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