February 11th, 2013 | by ANDREA DAMEWOOD News | Posted In: Cops and Courts, Environment, PDX News, Tech

Drones: Coming to Clackamas and Corvallis Airspace

news1_drone_3833IMAGE: Federico Yankelevich

Updated 1 pm: Clackamas County Sheriff's Office spokesman Lt. James Rhodes says there is no money and no immediate plans for a drone to join the department. He says they applied so that the department could use one, "should we choose to look into them."

Original story: As concerns over the use of unmanned drone planes in the United States reach a feverish buzz, two more Oregon institutions are quietly adopting the technology.

The Federal Aviation Administration’s 2012 list of drone license applicants includes the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office and Oregon State University, blogger Jack Bogdanski pointed out last week.

“We are exploring setting up a program in which we may use drones,” Clackamas spokesman Lt. James Rhodes tells WW. Rhodes says the planes are small, weighing just a few pounds, and will be used to tape training and for search and rescue.

As for using the drones to monitor citizens, as law enforcement is doing in Southern California to find a former LAPD cop on a killing spree, Rhodes says, "we’re not interested in pursuing a program for any use in that sense."

OSU has already flown its first drone flight last fall, over forests outside Corvallis. The university says in a press release that drones will be useful for forest fire spotting and monitoring environmental changes. But it also adds “applications in law enforcement are possible, especially where officers are stretched thin by having to monitor huge and sometimes remote geographic areas.”

Portland is already a drone site, as WW reported last year. A declassified Air Force document shows “current and projected” U.S. Defense Department operations involving “remote-piloted aircraft” at two Oregon sites, Arlington and Portland.

 
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