The love affair between American law enforcement and drone adoption continues to hover over news headlines. It’s once again time for a DRONELIFE police drone round up (past articles can be found here, here and here).
A quartet of Southern California police agencies have launched or are testing the waters for several public-safety drone programs.
In Fontana, the local police department purchased a DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter and a drone from NMotion that features infrared capabilities. Fontana has also partnered with the Inland Valley SWAT Team and plans to use drones in tactical operations.
The FAA granted the San Bernardino Police Department approval to deploy drones in March. The department will use a DJI Inspire 1 to capture crime-scene footage and search for missing persons.
Also in March, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department launched a search-and-rescue UAV pilot program as a yearlong trial; in addition, police in Murrieta Police flew a drone in a 2015 shooter-training exercise. The department may use UAVs in the future for traffic patrol.
Under a recent administrative ruling, law enforcement in Stratford will have to provide information to the state’s ACLU chapter to reveal whether or not the police department “purchased or used drones, eavesdropping or tracking technology” under a Freedom of Information Act request.
Earlier this month, the Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission director ruled that the police department violated the state’s FIO Act by refusing to provide the ACLU with information about its possible drone program.
The department balked at the ACLU’s 2015 request, citing a law that allows them to refuse a records request if “the disclosure of said records would not be in the public interest because it would result in the disclosure of….investigatory techniques not otherwise known to the general public.” The full FOI commission will issue a final ruling in May.
According to its Facebook page, the Abilene Police Department may soon be up in the air with a proposed UAV system. The department filed an application with the FAA to obtain a Certificate of Authorization (COA). Two Abilene officers have already been granted a pilot’s license.
The DJI Phantom III Pro will be used in “incident driven manner such as missing persons investigations, outdoor crime scene photography, fatality accident photography, SWAT situations and outdoor bomb calls,” writes Abilene PD Public Information Officer Lynn Beard.
“The system will also be utilized to assist the Abilene Fire Department for wildland fire reconnaissance and hazmat situations … [and] … with the Abilene Lake Patrol in water recoveries,” Beard added.