Drones safety for guards

Published 11:18 am Tuesday, July 22, 2014

For many of us, the word “drone” tends to prompt mixed feelings of fascination and worry. But one proposed use for the unmanned aerial vehicles in Ohio makes sense.

Officials of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction are studying the idea of using drones to monitor state prison yards and fences. The pilot project would occur at the Lebanon Correctional Institution and Warren Correctional Institution in Southwest Ohio.

Unlike controversial traffic cameras that replace police, the technology would supplement the supervision of guards, Ed Voorhies, operations managing director for the department, told the Dayton Daily News. The drones may carry cameras that would detect people near the prison perimeter at night, Voorhies said.

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The Ohio chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union rightly wants policies for use of the drones carefully spelled out beforehand. Attorney General Mike DeWine also should insist on this, having run into problems himself with using facial recognition technology without alerting the public beforehand.

The state also should establish beforehand how it will measure the effectiveness of drones. Christopher Mabe, president of the union that represents prison guards, told the Dayton newspaper that he’s not against the use of drones but that technology historically has “hardly moved the needle in terms of violence or contraband levels.” More guards are the answer, he says.

Then again, drones may help to create safer conditions for corrections officers.


The (Canton) Repository