Phoenix Police are not looking for weaponized drones but rather devices with powerful cameras that can provide them more reliable intelligence in various situations, from armed standoffs to riots. Photo by Dallas Police

When it comes to law enforcement generally and Phoenix Police specifically Ahwatukee’s Councilman Sal DiCiccio and South Phoenix Councilman Carlos Garcia rarely agree.

But at a formal council meeting Feb. 16, the two were united on the losing end of 6-3 vote allowing the Phoenix Police Department to acquire nonweaponized drones for a total cost not to exceed $516,000.

City Manager Jeffrey Barton told Council in a memo “This equipment, which is critical for the safety of department personnel, will be used during high-risk tactical incidents to conduct highly detailed and complex investigations and support major planned/unplanned events.”

Executive Assistant Police Chief Michael Kurtenbach cited one example where a drone – borrowed from Glendale PD – was critical to saving officers lives: The Feb. 11 shooting of nine Phoenix officers who were ambushed by a crazed gunman who used a baby to lure them within shooting range.

One officer said the drone helped police to look inside the shooter’s home during the siege to locate the gunman “without putting any officers in unnecessary danger.”

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