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Could Drones be the Police Force of the Future?

Silhouette drone Flying over San-Francisco city on blurred background

Silhouette drone Flying over San-Francisco city on blurred backgroundPerhaps you have seen it on the news: A suspected criminal is traveling at high rates of speed down the highway in an attempt to elude capture by law enforcement. Or, maybe you have seen it in person: You are driving down the road and pass an unlucky motorist who has been pulled over. Both of these situations are similar in that they involve real-life police officers. Chances are that what you haven’t seen is an alleged perpetrator being chased by a robot. That could change in the coming years.

In 2016, 167 law enforcement agencies, including fire departments, purchased drones. The year before, only half of that number had purchased the unmanned aircraft for use in their departments. In fact, if you combine the drones purchased from 2013 through 2015 for use in law enforcement, the number purchased in 2016 alone was triple, according to a recent article.

How Drones are Being Used

Drones are being used in a number of ways within the law enforcement community. The ultimate goal may be to keep human police officers safe, but drones are used in situations that aren’t necessarily considered dangerous as well. Here are five ways that drones are currently being utilized within the law enforcement community.

1. Active Shooters

It stands to reason that encountering a shooter is dangerous. By sending a drone into the air, police officers can not only locate the shooter, but survey the surrounding area. Officers can determine which way a perpetrator may be able to flee, the firing line and more. A drone can provide information officers can use to assess and defuse the situation safely.

2. Scene Analysis

When a crime occurs, the scene must be investigated. Drones can reduce man hours by taking video and supplying photographs. When a drone takes pictures, crime scene investigators can analyze the scene without, for example, closing streets or businesses.

3. Surveillance

Stakeouts take hours. They can also reduce the amount of manpower on the streets. With a drone, law enforcement officials can conduct surveillance for days, if need be. Drones are able to see areas that a human cannot, flying high above a field, for instance, or perching on a lamp post.

4. Monitoring Crowds

Crowd control can be difficult and expensive. When drones are deployed, law enforcement can better target areas that are of specific concern. The drones can also record images, giving the police evidence to use later.

5. Bombs

When suspicious packages are located, police must respond, possibly putting themselves in danger. A drone can fly over the scene and provide officers with an ability to assess the situation from a safe distance.

While you may not soon see a small flying machine chasing down a suspect, you may certainly see one flying overhead capturing images. This is especially true if you live in California. The state is second in the nation when it comes to the number of drones purchased by law enforcement.

If you have been charged with a crime in San Bernardino, a member of our experienced team can help you, whether evidence was gathered by a drone or a human member of law enforcement. Reach out to our office today to schedule an appointment for a free case evaluation and learn about your legal options.

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Stephen Levine, is a Board Certified Specialist in Criminal Defense — an honor achieved by only the top criminal law attorneys in California. Mr. Levine has over 40 years of experience in criminal defense and family law serving Southern California, and is a highly regarded Super Lawyer as well as AV Rated attorney.