The Seattle Police Department tried to clarify a little something on the blotter yesterday, and ended up airing a whole new issue: We may not be able to return those controversial surveillance drones to the Department of Homeland Security after all.
The blotter post was intended to allay people's fears that SPD will suddenly start using drones again, since the city council just passed legislation governing their use. Titled "We Drone't Want Any Misunderstanding" (ha-ha!) and written by Sergeant Sean Whitcomb, it starts like this:
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. Drones. Flying Robots.
Call them what you want. Just don't call them ours.
The SPD UAV program ended on February 7th. There are no plans to reinstate it.
While the vehicles haven't been returned to the vendor—a proposition more complex than expected— we're still working with DHS to determine their final disposition.
Wait, what? They haven't returned them? Mayor McGinn definitely said at the time of the program's end that "the vehicles will be returned to the vendor."
So I asked Sergeant Whitcomb what was making the drone return more complex than expected—did DHS yell, "No givebacks!" as SPD officials were walking away with their shiny new drones?
Whitcomb says: "They were gently used and the return policy had expired. Something to that effect."
Hey, SPD, lemme help you out here with a suggestion: Goldy says he wants a drone to go with his rocket launcher. I asked him how much he would pay for it, and he says, "It depends on the drone... If it was a really cool drone, I might spend a couple thousand dollars."
You heard it here first, SPD. Sure, each drone may have cost about $41,000 in federal grant money, but a couple grand ain't nothing! You have our phone number. Just ask for Goldy.