Neighbors Push Back After Hurst Police Hover Drone Over Back Yard Without Warning - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Neighbors Push Back After Hurst Police Hover Drone Over Back Yard Without Warning

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    Neighbors in Hurst are now pushing back after a police drone hovered over one back yard, without warning. (Published Monday, April 3, 2017)

    Neighbors in Hurst are now pushing back after a police drone hovered over a resident's backyard without warning.

    Bobbie Sanchez said the feeling of privacy disappeared when her child said "Mommy there's a drone over our roof."

    Sanchez said it was hovering long enough for her to take photos and then call for help.

    "They're watching my children play in the backyard," said Sanchez. "I called the Hurst Police Department and was pretty surprised to hear that it was them."

    Hurst police and fire started using drones earlier this year. They said the day they were over Sanchez's yard was a training exercise.

    The department is already making changes. Any officer using the drone will now need high-level approval.

    "We will not be doing any type of training exercises over houses and things like that," said Hurst Police Assistant Chief Steve Niekamp.

    Going forward, the department’s drones will only launch over crime scenes or accident scenes, or to find a suspect, an active shooter or a missing person. The fire department can also use them to strategize while fighting fires.

    "We're working for our citizens, if they have concerns then we definitely need to address it," said Niekamp.

    But for Sanchez, and some of her neighbors, trust is already damaged.

    "It might be legal but it's still creepy to think that police can be saying that they're training or looking for a criminal and still be looking at you in your backyard," said neighbor Casey Byrnes.

    Sanchez added, "I am not a person who will give up privacy for safety."

    The Texas Privacy Act restricts making recordings on private property but Hurst police told NBC 5 they were not recording in this case.

    Also in Tarrant County, Arlington and Mansfield police use drones. Fort Worth police have one for aerial photography, but they said it's not used in the field.

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