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The Minneapolis Police Department has signaled plans to begin using drones. 

The city's Public Health and Safety Committee is being asked to hold a public hearing on the matter on Wednesday, Aug. 24, according to a city memo

A state law, which took effect in 2020, requires law enforcement agencies to provide an opportunity for public comment prior to the purchase or use of a drone. 

The law also regulates other aspects of drone usage by law enforcement, such as data collection and retention, training, and reporting requirements. 

Last year, 76 law enforcement agencies in Minnesota reported using unmanned aerial vehicles, according to the memo prepared by MPD. 

"The ability to gather information in response to such things as real-time emergencies, crime scene documentation, or traffic accident mapping, has shown great value," the memo states.

"Importantly, UAVs are a great tool in de-escalating potentially dangerous situations. UAV’s provide situational awareness that otherwise might be unavailable, which allows officers to slow a situation down and limit the possibility of misreading a situation by any of the involved parties." 

A report last year by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension evaluated drone usage by law enforcement in 2020

More than 40% of the drone flights were related to officer training or public relations, according to the report. 

The Edina Police Department, for example, reported 52 flights for training or public relations — only 7 flights were related to an emergency situation. 

In Orono, all 77 of the police department's reported drone flights related to training or PR. 

The report found that Minnesota agencies spent a cumulative total of roughly $922,410 on drone programs that year.

Minneapolis Police Department has a budget of $196 million, which has increased by $3 million in the past two years.

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