Police Drones and How They are Changing Law Enforcement

A police drone ready to fly.

A police drone ready to fly.

Police Drones & How They Are Changing Law Enforcement

Drone technology is rapidly advancing many industries, bringing new insights, improving safety, and adding capabilities that were previously not possible. Law enforcement is one such sector that is seeing the benefits of drone technology, and larger police departments are budgeting for and purchasing one or more drones to use in their operations.

Police drones can be used from more routine police work such as investigations and traffic safety or used by special forces for public safety operations. Private security contractors who are trained drone pilots are also partnering with law enforcement to provide the drone operations to augment their needs.

Professional drones are a significant investment, and law enforcement industry consultants caution that if police departments are going to budget to purchase a drone, they must also remember to plan for training and certification of police drone pilots.

Sky Eye Films, part of our mission is training new drone pilots through our Peak Flight School. Many of these new pilots are taking their skills to law enforcement work. Here’s why.

Traffic Scouting and Accident Investigation

When there is an automobile crash or a traffic backup, drones with cameras can help law enforcement and public safety professionals determine vital information. The length of the traffic backup and the site of the crash are valuable pieces of data to dispatch officers and emergency personnel.

When a police officer is investigating an account, using a drone to fly above the crash site can provide critical data for reconstructing what occurred. Officers can take pictures to support the determination, see skid marks and debris, as well as sight lines.

Search and Rescue

When a hiker, cyclist, or another citizen is lost, time is critical to locating them and getting them care. Emergency personnel can use drones with cameras to help find people, even in heavily forested areas or down deep ravines. Infrared or thermal cameras can also help for nighttime investigations or to locate the heat signature of a human or animal in the terrain below.

Drones can also be used to deliver essential supplies to the person needing rescue, once officers have located them. A drone can fly in food, water, and medication to a person while rescuers plan additional operations.

Security for Dignitaries & Police Protection

Drone used for security detail. Eyes in the Sky.

Drone used for security detail. Eyes in the Sky.

When political figures, heads of state, and influential leaders are visiting a city or attending a meeting, law enforcement team with private consultants to ensure those leaders’ safety. Frequently, this security involves planning traffic routes and road closures, stationed uniformed and plain-clothes officers along a route or in strategic locations surrounding the event. Safety operations may also include snipers positioned on rooftops, surveillance, and security checkpoints to monitor entrance and egress to the area.

Police drones are improving security in many ways. Drones can serve as a vantage point as part of security efforts, providing a view with their installed camera of a particular blind spot or area that may be difficult to monitor with an officer.

They can also circle above an event or fly around the perimeter to provide intelligence about people’s movements or suspicious activity. Since drones are smaller and more agile, they can provide information that larger aerial vehicles, such as blimps or helicopters cannot.

Hostage Situations and Active Shooters

When law enforcement officers are dealing with a crisis, such as an armed person inside a public space, threatening or harming citizens, they need information quickly. Accurate data about the number of perpetrators and their positions, as well as the number and placement of victims are vital for officers to formulate a plan to eliminate the threat, capture the perpetrator, and keep citizens safe.

Drones can be an essential part of stopping an active shooter or hostage situation. They are a game-changer in making precise plans to enter the building to track and capture the shooter or shooters in a strategic counterattack. Police drones can provide a high vantage point, flying over a campus or building, gaining information that officers cannot see from the ground.

Since drones are much smaller and quieter than helicopters, special ops teams can be obtaining critical information without tipping off the attackers. Some newer drone models are so quiet that their presence is muffled by background noise.

With a very skilled drone pilot, a police drone can also enter larger buildings or complexes to obtain interior information that may help with victim location and accessibility.

Crowd Management

Drone view of a city crowd

Drone view of a city crowd

A crucial law enforcement duty is crowd control and security at public events. Officers are stationed to provide a presence and monitor specific areas, as well as assist with the traffic flow of vehicles and pedestrians.

A police drone can assist with crowd management by providing an aerial view of crowd movements and the ability to see areas where there may not be an officer stationed. Drones can fly further around the perimeter of an event to help officers determine traffic impact as well as additional vehicles or people who may be arriving.

In situations such as a public demonstration where police officers must support the right to free speech and assembly but also keep the peace, drones can be critical in monitoring crowd activity for breaches of peaceful behavior that would warrant intervention.

Delivery of Equipment and Supplies

When police forces have a special team on an investigation or working undercover in a remote location, getting supplies to the remote unit can be a challenge, especially without compromising the secrecy of the operation.

Drones can be useful for such police work by delivering important supplies and equipment to ensure the success of the op and the safety of your officers.

Police drones can deliver ammunition, medical supplies, food, keys, communication devices, and more using a skyhook or attaching a bag with items to the drone using velcro.

Contact Sky Eye Films

If you’re in law enforcement, whether as a public employee of a local, state, or federal department or a private security contractor, we can help you determine the type of drone best suited for your needs.

More importantly, we can also train your officers in drone flight and operations so that you can use your new drone safely and effectively and protect your investment.

Our Peak Flight School can help students learn to fly and pass their FAA examination in as little as five days, but we also offer more specialized and advanced flight training for precision operations. We’d love to help your officers learn the wonders of drone technology and how it can help you.