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There are many new possibilities for the police, to use drones. Some examples: 1. Mini-drones Police-officers could wear foldable mini-drones on their body, weighing about 200 grams. A mini-drone can be controlled via a smart-phone, that can also display it's video-images. The smartphone can send those images to the dispatcher, and to police-collegues on the scene. These mini-drones can be deployed to locate a suspect in a park or on a roof, or to search a building where an armed suspect may hide, or to quickly find a drowning-victim, etc. 2. Fixed-wing VTOL drones Fixed-wing VTOL drones combine high-speed and long endurance, with hovering in place, and 'Vertical Take Of and Landing' (VTOL). They have the shape of a mini-plane, and can weigh less than 4 kgs. They can reach an incident-scene very fast, to record evidence and start pursuit, while police-cars rush to join the pursuit. 3. Tethered drones Tethered drones are tethered with a vertical kevlar or nylon line, to a police-car, police-boat, pole or building. Tethered drones are powered via a thin copper wire, that runs along that kevlar cord. That allows them to be larger than battery-operated drones, and carry heavier equipment, like a video-camera with a radio-controlled telelens. 4. Tethered blimps Tethered blimps (AKA tethered balloons) are filled with helium. They don't need a motor to stay in the air, so they are cheaply operated. They also are tethered to a vertical synthetic line. Tethered drones and tethered balloons could be located at the exit-roads of cities, at a height of 10 to 150 meters, to help detect fleeing suspects. Or above a city-centre, mass-event, disaster-scene, large fire, riot-scene, et cetera.
Footage from the force of the cutting edge drone in flight. Devon & Cornwall and Dorset Police’s 24-hour drone unit, the first in the UK, has finally taken off. The latest in drone technology has been trialed since November 2015 and now the operational unit has been created. Chief Superintendent Jim Nye said: “This is an historic step for the Alliance [of the two forces] and policing in the UK; Drone capability is a cutting edge way to support operational policing across Devon, Cornwall and Dorset. “This technology offers a highly cost effective approach in supporting our officers on the ground in operational policing. “Drones will aid officers as part of missing person searches; crime scene photography; responding to major road traffic collisions; coastal and woodland searches and to combat wildlife crime. “Drones can even help police track and monitor suspects during a firearm or terrorist incident, as it will allow officers to gain vital information, quickly, safely, and allow us to respond effectively at the scene. “Being the first police forces in the country to have a stand-alone, fully operational drone unit is a great source of pride for the Alliance, and proves that we continue to work hard to find innovative ways to adapt to the ever-changing policing landscape.” Drone Team Manager, Andy Hamilton, added: “It is fantastic to see both forces working together to lead the way in utilising new, cutting-edge technology. Having previously been a police officer for 30 years, I have seen how technology has changed and can help us become more efficient in what we are trying to achieve. “An example of this is historically, any aerial photos or videos have been captured by The National Police Air Service (NPAS) helicopter; this is not always the best use of resources. Instead of always sending a helicopter on an hour’s flight to take a few photos of a crime scene, we can now use a drone to carry out the same task. “Whilst drones will enhancing our roads policing function, I also see this technology being able to complement NPAS by allowing helicopters to be available for more serious incidents across the South West.” The Drone Unit is currently using a DJI Inspire drone equipped with a zoom camera and a thermal imaging to allow for operational use 24 hours a day. Thermal imaging in action The camera is HD/4K quality and can capture both video and still images. We have also purchased a smaller DJI Mavic to test its portability as it is smaller and lighter in weight. Chief Supt Nye said: “At present we have five officers trained across both forces. Over the next twelve months we are aiming to have a further 40 officers having completed their Civil Aviation (CAA) training, allow them to be fully accredited and enable them to operate the drone. “We will also be adding to the number of drones we have as the number of trained officer’s increases.” View on Police Oracle
With the cuts to NPAS, I think now is a good time to open discussion on the use of drones by police forces. I'd be curious to hear what people think about them, as it seems whenever there is a mention of them in the media, people jump on the invasion of privacy bandwagon. However, I cannot see how it's that far removed from a helicopter? I can understand the concerns around fully automated drones patrolling the air, but in cases where a helicopter would usually be bought in, could a small drone usually carried in a vehicle be launched? The technology has come on leaps and bounds!