GRAND RAPIDS - For months, the Grand Rapids community has voiced their concerns about being policed by drones, citing legitimate fears about how easily drones could compromise their privacy, political speech, and freedom of movement.

We share these concerns, which is why we have been calling on the police department to work with us to ensure that, if drones are used, the GRPD has a policy that has strong privacy guardrails and true accountability to the public.

Unfortunately, stakeholders and the community were not included in the drafting of the drone policy, or even given an opportunity to see it until shortly before the Grand Rapids City Commission approved the purchase of eight drones earlier this week. Although there are some aspects of the policy that are good, unsurprisingly, given the lack of community input, there are also gaps.

We look forward to meeting with the department next week to share our concerns and hope that the GRPD will amend the policy to protect the privacy of residents and ensure accountability.