Metro Atlanta Police Are Using Drones To Respond To 911 Calls
Law enforcement agencies around Atlanta are adding drones to the list of tools they use to respond to service calls. They say this technology gives officers more intel on whats occurring on the ground.
What’s happening: Departments interviewed by Axios use drones for 911 calls, active police investigations, SWAT situations, crowd monitoring and control at events, photographing accidents and search and rescue.
How it works: In late 2020, the city of Brookhaven introduced a program using drones to respond to 911 calls. Officers still respond to these calls, but the drones often arrive first, said police Lt. Abrem Ayana.
- In one case, officers were dispatched to a call of a person brandishing a weapon and with the help of the drone, officers found the person loitering between two buildings and took him into custody.
Major Jeff Cantin with Atlanta police says during a SWAT call, officers can fly a drone into a building to talk to a person before sending in an armed team.
- I think this will help a lot with de-escalation because if you were in there, you’re having a mental episode, you see a drone and you’re talking to the drone, you’re probably going to be a little more comfortable than with seven guys with full body armor, goggles on, and long guns charging at you, he said.
In Sandy Springs, in addition to police department use, the city can request drones to take aerial photos of intersections for public works projects, Sgt. Sam Worsham tells Axios.
What Are The Benefits Of Drones In Law Enforcement
The drones used locally all have similar capabilities. They have two cameras one standard and one with infrared capabilities. They all can send back a live video feed to the operator or even post live on social media websites such as Facebook.
They also have attachments that can be added, such as a spotlight, a loudspeaker and a strobe light for night use.
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The Sudbury Police Department got its drone about a year ago, and it has been used at town events as well as at accident scenes and to search for missing people.
Its very useful for accident reconstruction, said Police Chief Scott Nix. You can actually document the accident scene from above and from several angles. With the appropriate software, it kind of maps the whole scene for you. Weve also deployed it when we have had missing people because it gives us a great aerial view.
Millis Police Chief Chris Soffayer said his department originally purchased a drone about two years ago. It has been a popular tool in town.
We got it initially for social media social media is big, he said. For example, if there is road construction going on we can use it to generate a detour map and put that up on social media.
The Wayland Police and Fire departments share a drone, acting Police Chief Sean Gibbons said. The main use will likely be search and rescue, but it is not in service because no one has yet been trained to use it, he said.
Can A Drone Record Conversations
Most drones are not equipped with a microphone to record audio. They typically only record and transmit video.
Recording audio from a drone is a difficult task due to environmental conditions and the distance from the target. A small microphone often needs to be within several meters of the subject. The wind and other background sounds may also drown out any sounds coming from the intended subject.
Despite the challenges, it is technically possible to equip a drone with a microphone and audio recording hardware. The drone would likely need a large long-range dish attached to a high-end microphone.
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Do Military Drones Use A Different Frequency
Instead of relying on radio frequencies, military drones typically communicate using satellites. As the military operates satellites across the Earths orbit, they can maintain communications with drones in almost any region of the world.
The maximum range of communications with an unmanned autonomous vehicle is only limited by the battery life or power source of the drone. By avoiding public radio frequencies, the military can also avoid interference with other devices and a decreased risk of hacking or jamming.
What Does This Mean For The West Bank
Following their training on the systems, they will be able to command the use of drones during operations.
The Israeli military has been conducting nightly operations in the West Bank as part of Operation Break the Wave. It is an attempt to crack down on Palestinian terrorism in the West Bank, with a focus on the northern West Bank cities of Jenin and Nablus.
Over the four months since the operation began, more than 2,050 counterterrorism operations have been carried out, during which over 1,500 wanted individuals have been apprehended and hundreds of weapons seized.
Violent clashes, many times with heavy gunfire leveled at Israeli forces, are becoming an almost regular occurrence during the raids. Close to 90 Palestinians have been killed during the clashes, including one man identified as 21-year-old Yunis Ghassan Tayeh, who was killed in the Fara refugee camp after he threw an improvised explosive device at troops.
Already in May, the IDF was mulling revamping its defensive strategy in the West Bank following the death of YAMAM officer Noam Raz, who was killed by Palestinian gunmen during a raid.
According to a report in Haaretz, the military was considering using helicopters and introducing special drone units to secure group troops during operations, and even fire on armed Palestinians.
With the rise in violence, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi warned that military activity in the West Bank could increase if necessary.
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Dji Matrice 210 Rtk V2 Zenmuse Xt + Z30 Zoom
DJI is known for its flagship consumer and enterprise drones. The company has a 70% market share in the drone industry. The DJI Matrice is one of the most popular enterprise drones. Paired with DJIs Zenmuse payloads, the Matrice 210 RTK is a very handy tool for law enforcement agencies. Firstly, the drone is equipped with an RTK module that gives it global accuracy down to a centimeter. With 38 minutes of flight time and an 8km operational range, the drone can give ground teams a detailed perspective from the sky.
The Zenmuse XT is a thermal payload that consists of industry-leading thermal imaging technology of FLIR. The additional Z30 payload is a high-definition zoom camera with up to 30x optical zoom. Some reasons that help the Matrice 210 RTK to stand out are:
- Can carry two payloads at once
- Built-in RTK module
We Asked Pc Sean Benson How Drones Are Used In West Yorkshire Police
West Yorkshire Police are currently employing three types of drone to assist in day to day Operational Activities.
- The quick response drone is the Parrot Anafi thermal. A lightweight yet fast and resilient small drone perfect for those fast-moving and quick time deployments.
- Our intermediate drone is an Elios Flyability. A collision tolerant close inspection drone which we use for searching small enclosed and difficult to reach places or those where it is too dangerous to send staff.
- Our largest drone is a Clogworks Dark Matter Quad . Weather-resistant, with a long-range 30x optical camera and the most sensitive thermal camera available in the UK market today.
This combination of tools allows us to support our officers on the ground with an array of policing activities. We do find ourselves mainly being requested to attend vulnerable and missing people, searching large open spaces, immediate search for wanted persons, scene containment, evidential photography, thermal imaging and pre-planned large scale events such football matches and carnivals. You may well have heard police drones at night or seen them close to events.
In the last six months here in WYP we have seen some terrific results from our drone team, locating vulnerable missing people, finding vital evidence and coordinating staff to bring about arrests of those who would otherwise have escaped.
Onwards and upwards as they say!
PC Sean Benson, UAV Operations Manager & Chief Pilot
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Top 5 Police Drones In Use Today
Drones have a wide range of applications in several industries. While their logistical usage is being implemented, law enforcement agencies have been using drones as a tool for a long time. These nifty aerial vehicles act like eyes in the sky and give access to remote areas. Drones can be fitted with numerous payloads, making them extremely modular and suitable for a variety of operations. Lets take a look at the top 5 police drones that are currently in use:
The following list has been categorized in two parts:
- Tactical: While most police drones are for surveillance, there are a few drones that are built for more than that. They are fitted with a unique array of sensors and tools that help them relay crucial information, drop payloads or lead an on-ground operation.
- Surveillance: Surveillance is the most common form of drone application in the law enforcement sector. Police often make use of drones to gain a broader perspective of an area. Drones here are used for reconnaissance, patrol, thermal imaging, search & rescue, and hostile confrontation.
Which Drones Do Police Use Most
For most police work, drones with high-quality real-time video, user-friendly operation, reliability, and high-security features are the most preferred.
Here are some of the drone brands and types typically favored by police forces:
|Camera with a 20 MP sensor, with a 1-inch Megapixel CMOS sensor Five direction obstacle sensing Potent video processing of H.264 4kat 60 fps or H.265 4k at 30 fps, both with 100 Mbps bitrate Flight time of approximately 30 minutes||$ 2,000 to $ 2,200|
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Uas Program Challenges For Law Enforcement
Without careful planning, concerned citizens may ground your UAS program before it takes off. Even with all the benefits drones provide, there are drawbacks such as privacy concerns and 4th amendment issues. Above all, community support is key to ensuring that your department has a successful UAS program.
UAS Programs Challenges include:
Tips to overcoming Police UAS Program Challenges
Community engagement & support
- Obtain community support in the earliest stages
- Get input and feedback from the community
- Disclose how your department will use UAS
- Make drone flight available to the public
- Promotes accountability
How does my department gain community support to use police drones?
Be transparent about your UAS program. Transparency should be part of your best practices as it will help thwart challenges to your UAS program. Police departments can extinguish citizens concerns and fears through trust and transparency.
Transparency leads to higher rates of:
- Community support
- Program success
Tips for building greater transparency:
What Are Police Drones Equipped With
Surveillance drones or unmanned aerial systems raise significant issues for privacy and civil liberties. Drones are capable highly advanced surveillance, and drones already in use by law enforcement can carry various types of equipment including live-feed video cameras, infrared cameras, heat sensors, and radar.
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What Type Of Drones Does Police Use For Surveillance
Drones are unmanned aerial vehicles, so if the police intend to use them, a separate law will have to be put in place. Research published by the civil aviation authority CAA said that 77% public think that drone regulation was needed. The most common drones used by the police are DJI drones, due to their reliability and good image quality. These drones are usually DJI Phantom 4 PRO, DJI Mavic Pro and a group of mini-drones that are used to enter the homes. What matters most to the police when using drones in their business is: security, quality real-time video, reliability, and easy drone management. A number of companies have emerged worldwide to fight for this new market that has a very bright future. Numerous industries have taken on a new shape, such as construction, agro-culture, photography and many more.
Accident & Traffic Management
Drones can provide important information during major traffic accidents by visualizing the magnitude of the accident and its impact on traffic flow.
This information can help redirect traffic, and can also help incoming emergency units responding to other pressing issues around the accident prioritize their efforts, making the response as efficient as possible.
A Patchwork Of Drone Regulations
While the FAA is in charge of regulating drones in the United States, the agency has been decidedly hesitant toward writing rules that pertain to privacy or aerial surveillance. In the absence of any such overarching rules, regulating the privacy implications and law enforcement use of drones has fallen to local authorities. This has created a confusing and complex patchwork of rules around how police can use drones, rules that differ markedly from state to state. Theres one thing civil liberties advocates and privacy specialists tend to agree upon: Police drones arent regulated nearly strictly enough, and the majority of U.S. states still have dont have comprehensive rules on the books governing their use. While police protest that drone regulations will discourage potentially valuable police drone use, civil libertarians argue thats exactly the point. In the absence of clear rules or guidelines, police drone use will almost inevitably expand to fit every void. And as police find new ways to use drones, regulations are required to justify their expanded use.
Dealing With Bombs And Hazardous Materials
Drones also help the police by investigating possible bomb threats remotely, without putting officers in harms way.
Not only that, but drones can help collect samples of potentially hazardous materials, either in a scenario where its suspected that someone is intentionally trying to hurt people, or when a spill, leak or other hazmat incident has occurred by accident. These samples can then be used to evaluate the threat, and deal with it appropriately.
For example, following an accident at a nuclear power plant where the repercussions are still unclear, a drone can help police to provide situational awareness about radiation levels and other key details from a safe distance.
Of course, these examples are just an overview of some of the ways law enforcement currently uses drones in their work. As time passes and drone technology advances, were sure to see even more uses crop up.
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Use Of Uavs In Law Enforcement
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Unmanned aerial vehicles have been used for domestic police work in various countries around the world since the mid-2000s. Their appeal comes from their small size, lack of crew, and lower cost compared to police helicopters. UAVs may be used for search and rescue operations, aerial patrols, and other roles that are usually served by crewed police aircraft. UAVs can be powerful surveillance tools by carrying camera systems capable of license plate scanning and thermal imaging, as well as radio equipment and other sensors. While a vast majority of law enforcement UAVs are unarmed, documents obtained by digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation indicated the U.S. Customs and Border Protection would consider arming their UAVs with ânon-lethal weapons designed to immobilizeâ targets.
A dozen U.S. police forces had applied for UAV permits by March 2013. This increased over time, with 167 police and fire departments purchasing unmanned aerial vehicles in the United States in 2016, double the number that was purchased in 2015.
The Advantages Of Police Using A Drones
We can take one classic example for this If we have a situation where officers are searching for criminals behind homes, they can locate them by drone from the air and zoom them and see what kind of equipment they have. After that, they can direct them to a safe location to give them commands and follow them with the drone to see if theyre complying. With this approach, they have more response time to react to these threats, and it is going to be a safer for everyone. What these drones can do is that they can pass the entire quarter very quickly, thus examining whether a fugitive is in the area, giving them a better opportunity to inspect the whole situation and make their job easier. Special pilots who are trained in such matters are licensed by the FAA. After they have passed all the tests, they receive certificates, and have the training sessions up to 2 times a month so that they do not fall out of shape and are always ready to fly.
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What Do Police Use Drones For
While some states require law enforcement to obtain warrants before using drones, most states allow police officers to use drones for a wide range of operations. The most common uses for drones in law enforcement include search and rescue, traffic collision reconstruction, active shooter investigations, crime scene analysis, and surveillance.
Current figures are not available, but in 2017, at least 347 US law enforcement agencies used drones. This was a 518% increase over the previous 24 months.
Search and rescue operations are the most common use of drones. Unmanned aircraft equipped with cameras provide a safer, more efficient way to search large sections of land in a shorter amount of time compared to the use of a helicopter.
Drones can safely navigate the airspace around mountains and other obstructions. When equipped with thermal cameras, drones can even spot people at night.
Some law enforcement agencies have used drones for traffic collision reconstruction. Police use 3D software and photos obtained by the drones to easily create 3D renderings of collisions.
Drones may have been employed by law enforcement agencies dealing with active shooter investigations. Using a drone allows police officers to scout an area and locate the shooter. Police officers may maintain a safe distance while deciding how to resolve the situation.