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Originally published Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 10:34 PM

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Seattle council drafting rules for police drones

Opinions were strong and comments were often heated at a Seattle City Council committee hearing on the issue of unmanned police drones.

The Associated Press

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SPOKANE, Wash. —

Opinions were strong and comments were often heated at a Seattle City Council committee hearing on the issue of unmanned police drones.

The Seattle Times reports ( http://is.gd/la6FbW) that one speaker Wednesday called committee members "idiots" for even considering an ordinance to govern Seattle police use of drones. Samuel Bellomio, with Stand Up America, told the committee in his words, "You guys are becoming a police state."

Jennifer Shaw of the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington said the ACLU would prefer that Seattle police not have drones. But since they bought two with money from a federal Homeland Security grant, she says it's important for the city to impose strong restrictions.

The police department says drones will be used to provide an overhead view of large crime scenes, serious accidents, disasters and search and rescue operations. The department says drones won't be used for random surveillance and won't carry weapons.

The meeting ended with committee Chairman Bruce Harrell calling the comments helpful and saying the proposed ordinance will likely be refined. It could come before the committee again on Feb. 20.

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