Why Police Departments Are Using Drones

February 20, 2018

Why Police Departments Are Using Drones

by Ian D Scofield

Before we talked about drones and the different applications that they can be deployed in. Many of those applications have a way for humans to do the same job though. What we didn’t talk about was why a drone is better than a human at various applications. Now we are going to go over some of the reasons drones can be better than humans.


The number one reason to turn to a drone rather than a human is safety. A lot of the applications that we mentioned earlier would put humans at risk. For example, using a drone to scout a SWAT situation prevents an officer from needing to do the same. If an officer becomes a scout, there is always a chance that they will get shot at.

Gunfire isn’t all that makes a drone safer to use, imagine that you are on a search and rescue operation and there are steep hills, dangerous terrain, and other potential hazards. Drones from the air help to prevent sending men who might also become in need of SAR assistance.

In my previous articles, I have mentioned that safety is first, last, and always.

More Affordable

A lot of the situations where drones can be deployed, helicopters could also be used. When flying a helicopter you have to take into consideration gas and man hours for pilots. Pilots can only fly for so many hours in a row.

A helicopter might have more airtime than a drone but many drones have interchangeable battery packs to get the drone back up in the air quicker. A turn around that isn’t possible with a helicopter that has to return to base.

Better Than The Human Eye

Drone cameras are synced to computers or other devices that are capable of analyzing the image. Image analysis can be used to identify targets such as people or aircraft wreckage from the air. Oftentimes a human eye will not be able to find the small differences in the image that could be a sought-after criminal or a lost hiker.

Some of this software is already in use for airplane searches and has proven itself extremely useful.

Harder To Notice

Many applications, including keeping an eye on a suicidal subject, require you to minimize your profile. If you were to let on that you were able to see the subject, they might start to get elusive or commit further harm. A drone is perfect for that application because it is much smaller and emits far less noise than other aircraft.

In the example from last time where they were able to keep an eye on the subject of a standoff, part of the reason they were able to do so without upsetting her, was that the drones were not noticable.

New Angles

Flying a drone around a crime scene to capture pictures and dimensions, will provide you with many benefits. One of the main ones is that it can capture new angles of the scene that you wouldn’t be able to do from foot. A whole new perspective can help to make things clearer.

Faster Response Times

Due to the faster response times of drones that can fly above traffic, Canadian EMS are using drones to deliver emergency supplies to victims and those in trouble. The ability to do this has already been credited to saving lives.

In a police application, that means you can get a drone on scene quicker than an officer sometimes to get eyes on what is going on. It is safer to get observation on a scene before officers arrive so that they don’t go into a situation blindly.

There are many different benefits for police departments that own drones. It all comes down to saving more lives of both subjects and officers. Something that cannot be frowned upon. Taking every chance you can to save a life means that your department is upholding the principles of to protect and serve.

There is far more to learn about drones so we will be having at least one more article on the topic next week. As always, stay safe out there.

About The Author:

Ian is a staff writer at APTI and hospital security officer at a major medical center who has a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice with a Specialization in Administration of Justice.  He has held multiple positions in the security industry from patrol supervisor to auxiliary public safety officer.  At APTI he brings his writing skills to help further the careers of others and provide quality content.  Feel free to visit his freelancing site or his creative writing site.

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