Drones in law enforcement

lockheed martin indago 2

Police drones have emerged in recent years as being highly capable in many different industries. They are being used in oil and gas inspection, professional photography/videography, even scientific surveys and collections. However, drones in law enforcement and public safety are quickly becoming a highly effective piece of equipment for daily operations.

Many people recognize the potential benefits of police drones for a number of reasons, reduced risk to officers, overhead perspective of dynamic situations, ability to maintain distance from hazardous chemicals, accident reconstruction, tactical operations, etc. There are many scenarios suited to the operational use of police drones; here are just a few of the most common.

Drone accident reconstruction

(3D model of accident, Pix4D)

Crime Scene/Auto Accident Investigation

After an auto accident occurs, proper documentation of the scene must be recorded for future analysis and investigation. During an accident investigation time is of the essence. Officers are trying to quickly document the scene and re-open interstates or roadways so traffic can start moving again. Drones allow for a very rapid documentation process utilizing 3D mapping software or simply images and video. Not only does this process save time but it also provides higher quality documentation for later analysis.

A quick flight over the scene can allow for sufficient documentation. Having aerial footage provides more information and a better overall viewing perspective regarding the accident. Also, it negates the need for more expensive operations using helicopters. Helicopters can be very cost prohibitive for the short time they are needed during accident investigation.

3D map reconstruction software can allow for a 3D model of the accident to be built, providing a high definition rendering of the accident for future reference. The technology has advanced so much that one scan using 3D mapping software can provide all necessary evidence of an accident.

mavic swat

SWAT and Tactical Operations

People think of SWAT as having the greatest tools offered to law enforcement, this oftentimes is true and police drones are quickly becoming one of those tools. The use of drones in SWAT operations can vary widely because the operations being conducted can be very different day to day. One tactical scenario that drones can be highly effective in is active-shooter situations, barricaded subjects and more. Drones can be utilized in numerous ways during an active-shooter operation, for instance systems can be rigged up with drop mechanisms capable of carrying items such as trauma kits, radios, water, etc. Providing victims in a previously unreachable area some sort of assistance or method of communication until responders can safely get to them.

Another method of operation for SWAT is building or room clearance during interior operations. Many systems are small enough now that they can be flown indoors, through hallways and doorways. The addition of propeller guards or cages can greatly increase the capabilities. This allows for the drone to essentially hit walls and obstacles without crashing or damaging the propellers. Utilizing a drone for room clearance can provide the team with an accurate layout of the building as well as identification of suspects. It can also be utilized as a distraction device, causing the suspect to focus on the drone while the team makes entry from a separate location, overwhelming the suspect before they realize what is happening. Drones have found many useful niches in tactical operation scenarios and that list will surely grow as more are put into operational use.

flymotion maverick drone mobile command center

Importance of Command and Control

Command and Control is critical during emergency operations. This is especially true regarding drone use not only in law enforcement but in all of public safety. We recognized the need for a system to act as the command center for drone operations and that is what we designed our Maverick vehicle to be. Maverick is the rapid-response drone mobile command center purpose-built for emergency operations. Having a dedicated command station for drone flights is critical to mission success. The ability to livestream footage to command staff or headquarters means all drone data whether it be thermal, electro-optical video, or images to be seen by the right people at the right time. You can learn more about our mobile drone command centers here and contact us for more information or a quote for your agency!

search and rescue drones

(Source: KPHO/KTVK)

Missing Persons

The ability of drones to gain a quick aerial perspective makes them a great tool to find missing persons. A rapid deployment capability allows for canvasing of a large area in a short time. When the clock is ticking and you are searching for a missing child or endangered elderly person, covering a great distance in a short time can help determine where to best direct further resources in your search. Other use cases include Alzheimer’s patients leaving their facilities as well as escaped convicts or fugitives. You can read more about drones for search and rescue here.

These are just a few examples of the vast capabilities of drones in law enforcement. When paired with the many highly capable apps used for public safety the usefulness grows even more. As adoption grows, as is rapidly occurring, more successful use cases will continue to emerge. Drones are just another tool for effective policing. They are quickly becoming a standard piece of equipment for law enforcement agencies around the country.

If you or your agency are interested in adding drones to your operations contact us or check out our shop. We offer discounted pricing to public safety agencies so make sure to let us know which department you are with!

Also, signup for The DEBRIEF, our weekly newsletter of drone technology updates and relevant drone industry news!

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