Approximately a dozen police, fire and emergency agencies surrounding Washington, D.C. are using drones to capture criminal suspects and fight fires, but the unmanned aircraft systems also are sparking privacy concerns and legislation.

At least 347 state and local police, sheriff, fire and emergency units in the United States have acquired drones, according to an April report by Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College.

“More and more departments in the public safety space, particularly in law enforcement, are acquiring drones for a range of operations,” says Dan Gettinger, co-director of the research group.

Some departments, including the Loudoun County, Va., Sheriff’s Office use professional-grade unmanned aircraft systems. According to the Bard report, the Loudoun agency uses the Indago model, made by Lockheed Martin, with a price tag in the $25,000 range.

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