Drones in Law Enforcement | How and Why They’re Used

drones in law enforcement


Law enforcement practice is evolving all the time. As an aspiring law enforcement officer, things that are standard now were once a rarity twenty years ago. Similarly, technology harnessed today – such as the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) – is commonplace when at one time it was not.

Drones are becoming more popular than ever in law enforcement.

When you think about it, this makes sense. Drones have the capacity to quickly, safely and effectively get to difficult-to-reach places, such as a mountainside. They can also be used to transport items, such as mobile phones, in situations where law enforcement believe they can negotiate with the offender.

As part of your police test study, you should learn more about the latest, modern practices that are becoming more widespread than ever. Here, we review some of the main applications of drones in law enforcement; a practice that you yourself will come into contact with when you qualify as a police officer.

Policing Applications of Drones

The statistics on drone use in US law enforcement is clear.

Currently, almost 350 law enforcement agencies use drones. That number is likely to rise steadily in the years to come. Put another way, there has been almost a 600 percent increase in the use of drones over the past 2 years. That’s an astonishing statistic; a reflection of what a versatile policing solution they have become.

One of the major applications of drones is in search and rescue.

Search and rescue missions are no small thing. Those precious few minutes, or even seconds, can make all the difference between life and death. Clearly, one of the advantages of drones is that they have the capacity to reach difficult to reach terrain. When fitted with thermal cameras, drones become a highly effective means to identify missing subjects.

Drones are also highly effective for road traffic accidents. For example – drones can be used in the reconstruction of traffic accidents. Instead of the painstaking effort needed to manually reconstruct the site, markers can be used which – along with 3D mapping software – allow the site to be quickly and more accurately restored.

Third, drones are a great way to investigate active police situations. For instance, drones can supply detail about where an active shooter; using that intelligence to formulate an action plan on how to capture or neutralise the subject.

Fourth, drones can be used for crime scene investigation. Drones afford police officers the opportunity to map crime scenes – in much the same way they do for road traffic accidents. Drones also offer significantly more detail for subsequent analysis, which may otherwise be lost from more manual, time-consuming methods.

Fifth, and no less significant, drones can be used for the purposes of surveillance. Scouting becomes far, far easier – a safe means to investigate a target location. It means that police officers are not spotted, all whilst they can conduct the surveillance that they need to perform.

Future of Drone Use

Drone use is expected to rise significantly in the years ahead.

Drones will also become more multi-functional; offering greater application tools for effective law enforcement. Thermal cameras will become more advanced, helping to more accurately sketch thermal signature paths.

As drone use becomes more and more commercialized, prices will drop, and many more law enforcement agencies will have the funding to access these novel approaches to policing.

As we have learned, drones offer enormous practical opportunities; an effective means to not only police effectively but also to police safely. Though there are some arguments against their use – such as the relationship between drone use and civic privacy – those concerns will be allayed when regulations more precisely stipulate how and when drones should be used.

In this regard, then, we can expect to see more of drones – both in terms of advanced technology and future applications – in the coming years.

You are likely to be asked questions about drones on your police test. It’s important to be prepared for every eventuality. Here, at Police Test Guide, we’ve put together the most comprehensive range of learning tools to help you pass the 2019 police exam. Learn more about what’s included and how we can help you pass first-time, every time!