Shawn Musgrave reports for VICE:

In February 2013, after vocal community opposition to police use of drones, Seattle mayor Mike McGinn announced that he had grounded the program and ordered its two Draganflyer X-6 units be “returned to the vendor.”

More than a year later, Seattle Police Department still has not shipped its two drones back.

In response to a freedom of information request for documents that would confirm the decommissioning, SPD Interim Chief Harry Bailey wrote back last Friday: "As of the date of this correspondence the Seattle Police Department has not returned the unmanned aerial surveillance drones and therefore does not have any responsive documents in regards to packing slips, receipts for shipping, etc."

Judging by what former police spokesman Sean Whitcomb told Anna one year ago, it sounds like SPD wants to get the $82,000 it spent on the drones back by returning them to the vendor, but the drones had already been used too much. Couldn't the drones be, say, sold or given to a group of researchers, and failing that, dismantled and dumped in the trash or recycled? Why is it so difficult for SPD to get rid of a couple of deactivated robots? (Unless... no... they've become sentient?!!)

Here's longtime activist Dorli Rainey last year at a drone protest:

  • AH

Given the lapses in judgement we've seen from the police lately, she's right to be skeptical. SPD did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment, but I'll update if I hear back.

UPDATE: SPD's Detective Mark Jamieson tells me "there’s been no movement" on getting the drones returned since last year and says the drones "have not been used since the program was ended last February." I asked where the drones are now, but he wouldn't say, and about the current status of SPD's efforts to get rid of them—he said he'd have to check.