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Drone technology for police use delayed

Published:Friday | October 28, 2016 | 12:00 AMEdmond Campbell
Diane McIntosh


Despite an allocation of $55 million in the budget of the Ministry of National Security to acquire drone technology to aid in the fight against escalating crime and violence in Jamaica, it appears that local law enforcement might have to wait for a while longer before getting the green light to use the high-tech devices.

Diane McIntosh, permanent secretary in the Ministry of National Security, told Parliament's Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) on Wednesday that the ministry would not spend the $55 million that was allocated this year to acquire drone technology.

She noted that $30 million of the amount allocated would be spent by the end of the financial year.

Giving details, L. Garth Soares, project manager at the ministry, explained that the framework needed to facilitate the use of drones by the security forces was just now emerging in Jamaica.

"In discussion with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), they are still trying to develop policy and regulation that govern these unmanned aerial vehicles. They are still trying to develop the regulations to govern how these aircraft are used," he told members of the PAAC.

"We are now joining the wider community to use these aircraft for public safety and for law-enforcement activities," he added.




Committee member Phillip Paulwell argued that crime and violence in Jamaica could not be solved by human effort alone, but required the full embrace of technology to successfully dent the problem.

In a Gleaner article earlier this year, the CAA issued guidelines of flight-safety notification, which provided details of the parameters required by persons who operate unmanned aerial vehicles or drones.

Under the current arrangement, drone operators are required to apply for special aerial work permits from the CAA on the basis that they meet specific standards.