The need to rethink law enforcement has become apparent. The national conversation about police use of force and de-escalation skills has spurred discussions about the necessity to seek innovative ways of providing information to responding officers. Not only on critical incidents but also on routine calls for emergency services. Small, remotely operated unmanned aerial systems, frequently referred to as drones, have proven to be an efficient and effective way of providing public safety critical information that supports better-informed decisions in response to calls for service, emergencies, or to conduct criminal investigations.
NLC members who attended the Summer Board and Leadership Meeting in Tacoma, WA, learned how drones are addressing the major challenges in American public safety. Blake Resnick, Founder and CEO of BRINC Drones, addressed the NLC Committee on Public Safety and Crime Prevention, then provided a flight demonstration of his company’s Lemur2 drone, which is manufactured in the U.S., and coached city officials on how to pilot a drone. Only recently has the air support that drones afford been attempted proactively on routine calls. Committee members heard about the positive experiences of Chula Vista, CA, and Santa Monica, CA, in fighting crime with drones.
The Drone as First Responder (DFR) initiative launched by BRINC promotes the innovative use of drones for public safety. Instead of launching a drone once a first responder arrives on the scene, the DFR approach strategically places drones at permanent locations throughout the city to respond to emergencies as soon as they happen. The intent of DFR is to get a drone on scene before first responders arrive, live-stream the drone video of the incident to commanders and first responders, and improve response time.
The use of drone technology by law enforcement assists in the reduction of incidents of force and mitigates violent confrontations with the community. Communication and real-time intelligence are the key components in de-escalating a situation as quickly as possible while using minimal force and not putting individuals in harm’s way. Additionally, drones support the mission of entering, searching, and clearing structures when it is too dangerous to send in a human. Cities throughout the country are experiencing a first responder recruitment and retention crisis. Drone technology can be an important force multiplier during this staffing crisis.
DFR programs are being piloted around the country to speed the response to emergency situations and support resource allocation. These programs are showing significant benefits to the communities where they have been implemented. DFR programs require detailed setup focused on drone equipment, software systems, training, Federal Aviation Administration approval, and program operation and maintenance.
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*Header image courtesy of Cathy Spain, Senior Director, Bearing Advisors, LLC.
For more information on the national rollout of drone use, see the July 5, 2023 NBC News story about drones in Santa Monica, CA. You can also attend the BRINC Drone Solution Session at the NLC City Summit in Atlanta, GA, where BRINC Drones will be exhibiting and demonstrating its Lemur 2 drone.