By JEREMY MEYER The Denver Post
Denver Police Chief Robert White tells a Denver City Council committee that he is not in favor of using drones until some of the controversies can be resolved. (Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post)
“We are not hesitant to be on the forefront of technology; however, as it realates to drones, there are some challenges there,” White said. “We are trying to better connect to the community. At this time (use of unmanned aerial vehicles) is controversial. The last thing we need to do is further divide us in the community. … The other thing is constitutionally there are a lot of unanswered questions about how they can be used.”
The issue was raised a few weeks ago when Councilman Chris Nevittsuggested the city should examine using UAVs, which he said are more efficient and cost-effective than the police helicopter.
Nevitt was not at Tuesday’s meeting. He and Council President Mary Beth Susman and Councilman Paul Lopez are taking a leadership course at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.
The police helicopter expenses cost the city an estimated $650,000 every year, including fuel, storage, maintenance and staffing. The council is being asked to approve an additional $377,400 from the general fund for continued maintenance to make up for the federal funding that was eliminated from the program because of sequestration cuts.
Council members in Tuesday’s meeting asked White whether the city gets repaid when the helicopter is used by other jurisdiction. White said the city doesn’t ask for repayment because it happens only a half-dozen times a year and is considered mutual aid between jurisdictions.
“This is a great example of regional cooperation where safety is beyond boundaries,” said Councilwoman Robin Kniech.
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