Boston blasts reignite debate over surveillance drones

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by ERIC WILKINSON / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on April 16, 2013 at 5:55 PM

Updated Tuesday, Apr 16 at 6:00 PM

Bomb sniffing dogs are just one of the tools authorities have to try to prevent acts like the Boston bombings from happening in Western Washington.

But how much security is too much? The Boston attack is reigniting the debate over privacy, surveillance and safety.

Everett Police Officer Eddie Golden put in two decades as a New York City cop, and lost six friends in the Twin Towers before leaving for the relative calm of the Everett Police Department.

It's the memory of those friends that drives him today.

“The sights, the sounds, the smells... it was yesterday,” he said.

On Tuesday, Golden met with Mukilteo business owners, delivering a seminar about what to do in the event of a mass shooting rampage. But that, unfortunately, is yesterday’s terror threat. The Boston blasts have shifted thoughts to roadside bombs turning city street into killing fields.

Golden believes it’s time to remember the past and refocus on the future.

"I think when it comes to public safety and people being protected, all options are on the table," he said.
  
"All options" includes remote control surveillance aircraft, a proposal shot down by Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn earlier this year after protests by people concerned about privacy.

“Drones are a tool that every law enforcement agency would like to have,” said Eric Holdeman, former head of disaster planning for King County and a nationally recognized expert. 

Holdeman thinks Seattle should reconsider, given the usefulness of drones in both preventing terror, solving crimes and assisting in other emergency needs.

"Whether it's a lost child, a lost Alzheimer’s patient, a shooter from a window, law enforcement needs to have the tools to get the job done,” he said. “To say ‘no’ is unreasonable and it puts citizens and public service agencies at a disadvantage.” 

A spokesman for Mayor McGinn told KING 5 News that drones will not be reconsidered, despite the attacks in Boston.

Back in Mukilteo, Officer Golden continues his mission to replace fear with hope through education.

“There's more of us than there are of them,” he said. “I know good will prevail over evil.”

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