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Drones Could Be Coming to Fairfax County

Police chief says drones will monitor traffic.

Unmanned aerial drones could soon be flying over Fairfax County, according to Fairfax County Police Department Chief David Rohrer, WTOP reports. 

"Drones will certainly have a purpose and a reason to be in this region in the next coming years," Rohrer said Monday on WTOP. Rohrer was appearing on the station's "Ask the Chief" show.

Rohrer said the drones could be used to monitor traffic conditions and backups on area roadways.

The Federal Aviation Administration recently released a list of organizations that are authorized to use drones. In Virginia, some government agencies based in the state and Virginia Tech have received drone certificates, though the list does not include information about where the drones are flying. 

In February, Virginia officials that they rarely monitors drivers' speed on highways using aircraft, despite signs that warn motorists that aircrafts could be watching them as they drive.

Joe Brenchick May 02, 2012 at 01:07 PM
Rohrer said the drones could be used to monitor traffic conditions and backups on area roadways. That sounds nice. Call me a skeptic but we all know there’s something more. Maybe see accidents in real time and help coordinate Police and Rescue response times. However, we all know that the underlying “value added” purpose of the drone is to issue speeding, reckless driving and other moving violation tickets that traffic cops on the ground would otherwise miss. God forbid you find yourself on a open road and your foot gets a little too heavy or you forget to use you blinker. Don’t worry, Big Brother’s eye in the sky will let you know if you’ve overstepped your bounds. Every politician loves a cost efficient revenue generator! Maybe the ones who really should be worried are the motorcycle cops.
Ken Schueller May 02, 2012 at 02:22 PM
Will the cost be worth the benefit? Have the monitoring that is in place paid for itself? What will drones do that they will have a benefit. How large of an area can they cover? How many new hires will be needed per drone? Will a smaller police force be a benefit? Not enough information to make an intelligent decision - without privacy concerns being addressed. Will there be limitations on how the drones will be used?
ree May 02, 2012 at 05:44 PM
Let's clear up a few things. Be assured that Fairfax County will purchase NEW drones, not used military surplus models. The police chief specifically said the drones could be used to monitor traffic conditions, so he is clearly referring to small low-altitude tactical models, not the large high-altitude ones. Those would be too expensive anyway. We all know the real reason the Police want these is to augment or replace helicopters for chasing suspects, etc. Helicopters are too expensive to use for traffic enforcement and minor code violations. However the drones will be cheap enough to fly that they can be used effectively to generate revenue from traffic tickets. There will be more of them than there are helicopters and with more flight hours available, there will be more freedom to fly them wherever a whim strikes. There will be more people who can control and access the video feeds,hence more opportunity for abuse. It doesn't happen so much now because helicopters are too expensive, but you can count on the boys being boys given a chance to look into backyards.
sburbnite May 06, 2012 at 05:10 PM
The only good thing I can say about this is that they would be quieter than the helicopters that already rattle my walls. That said, I got a wise fortune cookie many years ago that I have never forgotten: Security is very nice, but loss of freedom is the price.
The Convict May 07, 2012 at 02:41 PM
Can you imagine the hue and cry that will come out when one of these devices crashes, especially if it crashes into traffic, a shopping mall or an elementary school and, especially so, if said crash occurs because of loss of signal for the remote control? And, just out of curiosity, do these drones have "blackboxes" on them?

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