sUAS Developments in the News
As a growing number of Colorado public safety agencies launch drones to help firefighting efforts, rescue lost hikers and take pictures of crime scenes, Denver’s police and fire departments are debating the merits of using unmanned aircraft.
Austin police officers are gearing up to use drones to map out scenes of fatal crashes across the city. The new technology could cut the time investigators spend gathering evidence by as much as 80 percent, significantly reducing traffic on some of Austin’s congested and dangerous roadways while keeping officers safe from passing vehicles, said Lt. Blake Johnson of the vehicular homicide unit.
After Orange County deputies fatally shot a teenager earlier this month, they released drone footage of the incident. The incident is an example of the increased use of drones at police and fire departments in Central Florida. Agencies including the Orlando Police Department, Orlando Fire Department and Orange County Fire Rescue have begun using the devices within last year.
It’s 2018: Hoverboards have come and gone, cell phone towers are in the process of filling out Yellowstone National Park and the Great Falls Police Department is gaining the higher ground with drones. And it’s paid off. In a two-week span in May, GFPD deployed the drone to locate a man locked in an apartment building during a standoff, led a search and rescue boat to a drowned man from the Missouri River and cleared the area for officers searching the railroad tracks on the west bank, where someone had reported a suspicious-looking man with a rifle (the man was never located).
For decades, police investigators at crash scenes used chalk marks, tape measures and roller wheels to record measurements and skid marks to help them assess what happened. Now, more police agencies are turning to unmanned aerial vehicles to do that work.
Federal officials this week warned police around the country that drones are posing an ever-growing threat to safety and security. Citing the use of a drone on an attack targeting Venezuela’s president, U.S. officials went on record with their concerns about drones.
Amid concerns about privacy, Fairfax County supervisors Tuesday put off plans to expand the use of drones by police and other first responders in the county. The Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to defer approval of a drone policy manual and the purchase of six to eight drones that would cost about $3,500 each until there is more chance for public input.
A growing number of Michigan police agencies are employing drones to provide a bird’s-eye view of accident and crime scenes, speed searches for missing persons and help find fugitives. This summer, the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office began an unmanned aerial vehicle program, following the Michigan State Police and the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office and Farmington Hills Police Department.