The Board of Supervisors is considering a new program where Fairfax County would purchase up to eight Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). The County is quick to say this isn’t a purely police mission and that by Virginia law, UAVs can’t be used for law enforcement without a warrant.
Still, the Board of Supervisors understands that privacy concerns abound. Who wants the government flying a drone over your house? Watching you grill with your neighbors and listening to you talking about how terrible Penny Gross is?
The missions that these UAVs will actually fly are really great. They’ll be used in accident reconstruction, which could get accidents cleaned up and traffic moving quicker. They’ll be used to investigate fires in buildings that put firefighters at risk. They’ll be used to get a closer look at dams and bridges that need repairs. There will always be two or three government employees with line of sight to the UAV. There will always be controls in place and a Steering Committee to watch over the program.
I attended the final listening stop at the Mason Government Center on February 4 to hear from our great county EMS, Police, and Fire and Rescue officials and to get my questions answered. I also prepared a list of my concerns that I hope the Board of Supervisors will address. You can read my letter: UAS Program Critique – Aiken for Supervisor 20190206
As your Supervisor, I’ll always look out for your privacy and security. I’ll always look out for the citizens’ bottom line, too. It’s your money, it should be spent wisely.