Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Using the EFF Drones Questionnaire to Document Drone Activity at the Local Level - Ocean City, NJ

The exchange below documents the work done by a resident of Ocean City, NJ, to determine if and to what degree local law enforcement is using, or has plans to use, drones. It follows the format provided by the Electronic Frontier Foundation in its questionnaire “Drone Questions For Police Departments.”


October 18, 2012

Dear Chief Callahan and Retired Naval Commander Mac McCarthy,

I have documented, to the best of my ability, our meeting 9/17/12 re Drones.

Please confirm that this description is accurate.

Thank you.

Steven Fenichel, MD.

On 9/17/12 I met with Police Chief Chad Callahan of the Ocean City, NJ Police Department. In attendance with me was fellow resident Mac McCarthy who is a retired attorney and US Naval Commander.

The purpose of our meeting was to determine the intentions of our police department regarding the possible role of Drones.

We followed the questions from the Electronic Frontier Foundation and its questionnaire “Drone Questions For Police Departments.” The questions asked to Chief Callahan were:

1. Does the department currently have or have access to an unmanned or remotely piloted vehicle ( a “drone”)?

The Chief responded that his department does not currently have or have access or possession of any drones.

2. Does the Department have specific plans to obtain a drone?

The Chief emphatically stated that not only there are no specific plans to obtain a drone but he felt it was unnecessary to ever consider having a drone in Ocean City.

3. Has it issued a request for proposals from drone vendors or manufacturers, or sought external funding for the purchase of a drone?

To this the Chief responded emphatically “NO”.

4. Does the department have any policies, guidelines, or instructions on the department use of drones including legal process required?

The Chief shook his head “no” and stated that he does not see this ever happening while he is the chief.

5. Does another local government agency like a city council or county commissioner oversee or regulate the police department? If so which agency is that?

Chief Callahan stated that City Administrator Mr. Dattilo is his immediate supervisor. The County Prosecutor was also mentioned as having a supervisory role for his department.

6. Any other information that you want to provide about the department.

In discussion with Mr. Callahan about the recent law passed by the Congress giving drones unlimited air access over America in 9/2015 the Chief seemed genuinely concerned. The fact that the 18,000+ police departments will be viewed as major customers for this technology with tax dollar grants from the Department of Homeland Security elicited a response from the Chief that Ocean City would not be interested.

6. May we contact you for more information if necessary?

Chief Callahan gave a positive response to this question.
His phone # is: 609 3999111.
His email is:
"And of course you may always contact me."

Sincerely yours,
Steven Fenichel, M.D. FROM CHIEF CALLAHAN (via email)

October 22, 2012

Dr. Fenichel,

I reviewed the Q & A and it all appears accurate.

Have a safe week.


Chad C. Callahan, Chief of Police

* * * * *

Is the police department in your community using drones? See the Electronic Frontier Foundation's questionnaire “Drone Questions For Police Departments.”