The Anchorage assembly is considering an ordinance that would allow the Anchorage Police Department (APD) to use drones for law enforcement. The measure is slated for introduction at Tuesday's assembly meeting. 

An APD officer recently received training to operate drones, more formally known as Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). 

Tuesday's ordinance, submitted by Assembly Vice-Chair Forrest Dunbar, outlines parameters for drone use within the Municipality. 

"The Anchorage Assembly has concerns about the potential for a UAS program to violate the privacy rights of Anchorage citizens guaranteed under the Alaska Constitution and the U.S. Constitution, concerns which have also been expressed by members of the Anchorage community," Dunbar wrote. 

As a potential solution, Dunbar suggests the following restrictions on drone use:

  • Not to be used for routine patrol activities.
  • Shall not be used for warrantless searches that are specifically seeking evidence as part of a criminal investigation.
  • Shall not be used in a manner that violates a person’s reasonable expectation of privacy unless supported by a warrant.
  • A UAS shall not be weaponized, nor shall it be used as a weapon.
  • Not to be used for any surveillance of persons or groups involved in constitutionally protected activities.
  • UAS shall not be used for traffic enforcement activities, except to the extent that such use relates to an accident investigation.

The ordinance also specifies that any changes to drone operations or policies within the Municipality must be brought before the Assembly. 

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