Windsor

Windsor police promise new drone tool won't be used for random surveillance

Windsor police promised their new remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS) will not be used for random surveillance.

'We're not putting it out there for routine policing,' says operations officer

Const. Matt Cincurak was hired by Windsor Police Service to facilitate RPAS training. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

Windsor police promised their new remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS) will not be used for random surveillance.

Instead the tool will be used for a variety of purposes with judicial purpose — such as under a warrant — or for documentation of scenes.

"This is a great tool to keep our communities and officers safe," said Const. Talya Natyshak.

The program began in January, and officially launched Wednesday now that police "pilots" have been assigned to the RPAS. Officers are assigned to the unit on a part-time basis.

CBC News learned in June that the program was underway, with documents obtained through a municipal freedom of information request. In response to questions, police confirmed the drone had been purchased in January and a training package was included with the purchase.

Officers have to conduct biweekly test flights to "stay current" on the RPAS. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

Now that the program has officially launched, police have promised it won't be used to invade anyone's privacy. 

"We're not putting it out there for routine policing," said Staff Sgt. Sue Garrett. "We won't be doing random surveillance."

Garrett said the RPAS is a great tool, which will allow officers to respond to unknown situations in a more safe manner. 

"We can see what's going on and develop an action plan safe for everyone involved," said Garrett.

RPAS trainer Const. Matt Cincurak came to Windsor specifically for the training role, preparing officers for their written and tactical testings. 

Cincurak said officers have to conduct biweekly test flights to "stay current" on the RPAS. He said he expects the RPAS will be used for crime scene photo and video documenting, traffic accident documentation and in search and rescue situations. The drone can also be used to search for something or someone in area waterways. 

Each police operator of the RPAS was certified June 1 by Transport Canada.

Windsor police would not divulge the cost for the program. 

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