Shelby County Sheriff's office wants remote drones

MEMPHIS, TN - (WMC-TV) – Many law enforcement agencies are already using remote drones across the country and in the mid-south.

Now the Shelby County Sheriff's office wants to buy two of them.

"Anything we can do to aid in keeping our citizens safe is something that we want to look into very seriously," said Chip Washington the Shelby County Sheriff's Office Public Information Officer.

But Shelby County Commissioner Brent Taylor, who voted against the drones in a committee meeting believes they could be dangerous.

"They'll be able to fly over someone's house and be able to take pictures of activity in people's backyards," said Taylor.  "They'll be able to hover over a window and look into a window."

The Sheriff's office says they won't be used to do that.

"We can assure folks there are strict federal guidelines that mandate how you use things like that," said Washington.

The drones are operated by remote control and the operator must keep them in their line of sight. The drones also have video cameras on them.

Law enforcement agencies use the drones for things like finding lost children, spotting marijuana fields and investigating traffic accidents.

The drones are only allowed to fly 400 feet into the air, which is about the height of Clark Tower in East Memphis.  They also cannot be flown at night.

"I think its an invasion of privacy," said Taylor.

The full commission will vote on the purchase of the drones.  If it passes, a Homeland Security Grant will be used to purchase the flying devices.

Copyright 2012 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.