Can Police Use Drones For Surveillance?

Can Police Use Drones For Surveillance

Like it or not the drones are coming, and if you’re thinking about committing a crime or taking part in some antisocial behavior, then you better look left and right as well as up! Drones are becoming a crucial tool in law enforcement. Law between necessary surveillance and a Big Brother state is increasingly blurred.  Not everyone is so positive, because some people think this will leave the doors open for actually potentially privacy abuses and unwarranted surveillance of residents.

So Can Police Use Drones For Surveillance? Yes, there are around thirty states where police has implemented a law in place for using drones for surveillance. Police have for some time been entitled to use drones not only for surveillance, but also for making it much easier, safer, more efficient and faster to carry out their tasks.

Drones, they’re used in the film industry, they feature in blockbuster movies, in war zones and now they are being used by the police. There are a lot of police forces over the world that are setting up drone units, and many of them are currently training officers to use the bird’s eye view technology with the aim of tackling anti-social behavior as well as catching thieves.

The use of remote-controlled aircrafts could save taxpayers from the costs of maintaining helicopters and extra police officers on the ground. UK have the 43 police forces that are adopting the use of drone technology. Bringing drones into the police force will put a fresh set of eyes and it will help to reach communities that are harder to reach in normal way.

Ways On How Police Use Drones in Interventions

We will go through one of the scenarios how police use the drones for which they are specially trained for. Example; if they are tasked with entering a house suspected of having an armed man, what the police are doing is sending a mini drone inside the house to survey the situation, and as the drone enters from one room to another, so the police go one step behind the drone. By doing so, the risk is drastically reduced and potential shootings are avoided.

This method drastically improves the quality of the survey and thus the search without any risk of danger. The drone is always moving in front of the police officers, so they have a complete picture of what is happening in the room and whether anyone is there.

If they find someone in another room, it is easier for them to give them notice to surrender and to know where they are. Here only weather conditions are a problem, because some of these drones cannot operate below certain temperatures. 

Can Police Use Weaponized Drones On The Public?

You may heard or read about the use of weaponized drones in the Western world and most especially in the U.S.A. The state of Connecticut had a debate over a bill that would allow police to put dangerous equipment on drones as of april 2017.

What most Connecticut lawmakers are considering is whether they should become the first country to allow use of drones that are equipped with dangerous equipment. Currently North Dakota is the only state that allows police to use weaponized drones, but limits them to use less lethal equipment such as rubber bullets and tear gas.

Currently, in the United States, there are 5 states and those are: Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, Vermont and Wisconsin prohibit anyone from using a that drones. Other countries don’t have permission to use that kind of drones on the public. But in the near future a weaponized drones aren’t going to go away.

The Advantages of Police Using a Drones

Police use drones from Air

We can take one classic example for this; If we have a situation where officers are searching for criminals behind homes, they can locate them by drone from the air and zoom them and see what kind of equipment they have.

After that, they can direct them to a safe location to give them commands and follow them with the drone to see if they’re complying. With this approach, they have more response time to react to these threats, and it is going to be a safer for everyone. What these drones can do is that they can pass the entire quarter very quickly, thus examining whether a fugitive is in the area, giving them a better opportunity to inspect the whole situation and make their job easier.

Special pilots who are trained in such matters are licensed by the FAA. After they have passed all the tests, they receive certificates, and have the training sessions up to 2 times a month so that they do not fall out of shape and are always ready to fly.

Advantages That Drones Have In Police Job

Police thinks drones will increase their ability to effectively provide life-saving assistance to our community. This is because they can put drone in the air fairly quickly to get a view they can’t see from the ground.

That can be vital in several areas such as; natural disasters, finding suspects on the run and locating missing people. Police also use drones with thermal imaging capabilities. From the air it can help police find people or evidence on the ground by measuring heat.

Thermal drone is expensive and it cost $15.000. The general public when you tell them about the drone program that police use, they think about famous Predators that are flying around the sky and surveilling the entire town.

When police is coordinating a massive area search for a person, the number one is that they can use the drone stuff live and map the entire area and then deploy people accordingly based on live up-to-date images of the terrain, instead of Google images, which may be outdated.

So with that you get live images and they deploy their officers more efficiently and then coordinate their search and grid patterns based on those live images with more effectively and find people quicker.

What Type of Drones Does Police Use For Surveillance?

Drones are unmanned aerial vehicles, so if the police intend to use them, a separate law will have to be put in place.  Research published by the civil aviation authority – CAA said that 77% public think that drone regulation was needed.

The most common drones used by the police are DJI drones, due to their reliability and good image quality. These drones are usually DJI Phantom 4 PRO, DJI Mavic Pro and a group of mini-drones that are used to enter the homes. What matters most to the police when using drones in their business is: security, quality real-time video, reliability, and easy drone management.

Several companies have emerged worldwide to fight for this new market with a bright future. Numerous industries have taken on a new shape, such as construction, agro-culture, photography and many more.

Reduced Costs With the Use of Drones

Drones are helping local law enforcement to step into the future. They are giving crime fighters a fresh perspective and they do not give criminals a place to hide The more and more law enforcements are using drones in their operation.

They’re putting drones in the air because they’re fast, nimble and can see things you can’t see from the ground. When bad guys try to run and hide, the police drones can zoom and locate them from above. And now more and more law enforcement are getting involved with drones. It gives them a perspective they’ve never had before.

Helicopters are very costly to operate, and drones are much cheaper. With a helicopter you have the fuel, maintenance cost, the manpower cost and there’s a lot involved in that. Drones pose much less of a risk to the public.

Soon they’ll be much more common as more law enforcement agencies deploy drones. There are also some strict regulations when law enforcement can use the drones like they’re not supposed to be used for surveillance unless you’ve got a search warrant.

Privacy Issues When Using Drones for Police Purposes

What might be the biggest problem in this whole story is privacy. Does the police have the right to record your territory, monitor you and other such things  as they search for suspects? Therefore, new laws implemented in some countries have begun to be considered, as drones are a relatively new technology and it is difficult therefore to determine what is laughing and what is not.

In the next few years, it will be necessary to lay down new laws that will determine what powers the police have in the use of drones and to what limits they may go.

Policies For Law Enforcement Use of Drones

After drones come in everyday use, the laws have not yet been fully defined. Over the next 5 years, almost every police station will have drones and use them for safer and easier work. The question that arises is that the community must believe that under no circumstances will the police use drones to spy on them, thus harming people. 

If you want to know the law for drones, this is the book I recommend: Drones: Their Many Civilian Uses and the U.S. Laws Surrounding Them. Therefore, security measures should be defined to protect civil privacy in the drone system. We will go through 4 main points that are important and should be considered in this case:

1. Be Familiar With the Law in Your Country

Each state has different laws regarding the use of drones for private and business purposes, while some states have completely restricted them and are prohibited from using them. Regardless of your country does not have specific laws on the use of drones, drone agencies must know that you do not intend to use them for civil rights violations. Contact legal advisers and people involved in these matters and you will receive quality guidance.

2. Know Exactly What You Need

What is key in all of this is to determine exactly the purpose of using the drones before purchasing them. This means that the police have to define exactly in which cases they would be used, how often and how many people would be trained to use them, and only then should a purchase order be sent to buy these drones. This will give you better insight and purpose for using these drones, and the elaborated plan makes it easier to access and get the needed equipment.

3. Have a Plan For Storing And Use Of Data

What helps the police a lot in using drones is the information they get right at the scene. Because the more data and information you have, the better quality and faster you will be able to get your business done and thus protect the community.

However, when it comes to collecting data, it is necessary to know to what extent that data may be collected. When a police use drones they have photographs and videos that are also related to civilians and non-investigators alike, and this raises the issue of privacy. Therefore, a period of time should be set to determine how long this information will be stored.

4. Be One With the Community

You need to have a well-developed plan that you can present to the community. If you present your program poorly, do not have a clear and detailed answer to some questions, you will get negative reactions from the society around you.

Agencies should work with citizens and come up with a policy to use drones. It is therefore necessary to conduct a very wide survey among people and gather a lot of opinions and advice on what should be adopted and what should not, since these drones still have numerous opportunities that do not suit everyone. If you do all of these things, your program will be effective in the long run.

Related Article: Can Police Use Drones Without a Warrant?

What Is the Future Uses of Drones

When it comes to the future of drones, it’s hard to say where the boundaries really are, but what we do know is that they have drastically increased the benefits as opposed to the classic methods used today, such as emergency services.

Also, when it comes to rescuing people and major fires, they give us a great advantage in finding and locating people in areas that are not easily accessible. Drones can also be supplied with medicine and delivered to people who cannot move and go to a specific place.

One thing we know for certain, and is that this new industry is just waiting to make a major leap forward in the application of new technologies provided by drones. I wrote a separate article about 10 Ways Drones Will Be Used in The Future.

Drone Law Enforcement Policy

Drones should have some kind of regulation to know exactly who owns which drone, and with that, it will make law enforcement much easier. Since civilians are allowed to use drones, states have introduced special laws to regulate these implementations, that is, police agencies with the insight to detect and prosecute crimes. But at the end of it all, it’s the FAA who approves the use of drones because they are the ones who give the ultimate permits about drones.

The hardest part that now needs to be done is passing laws, regulations, and certain practices that need to be put in place when passing drone laws. Since each country has different laws, the problems should be solved at a common level, that is, the states should agree and adopt universal laws about it. If a good drone policy is enacted, responsible law enforcement can be ensured for civilians using drones in their daily lives.

Pros and Cons For Drone Surveillance

Finally, when we draw the line below all this, we can say that in addition to the great advantages, drones also bring great risk. The risk is related to the enacted law and its use. It will be difficult to determine whether drones have consistently followed all rules and followed all local regulations when using them.

If it is proven that the drones were misused in some parts during the investigation, such materials will not be valid in court and will be rejected, so future laws will need to be well and thoroughly reviewed and drafted. This would also penalize police officers conducting the case, that is, citizens would have the right to complain to them. We hope that in the end it will be all nice and detailed and that there will be no problem with such things.


We could see that drones have been used in the police for a long time, and that the law was approved for them. Their policy is in place and they will not videotape anyone in a private location without a search warrant. The drones that police use are increasing the ability to do their job effectively and quickly.

Using drones, the police can save time and save lives, find armed suspects and preferably call SWAT team. The drones are more common in the US and as consumers purchase them, they understand what they are, what they’re capable of and what we’re really using them as the basically photography tools. If I left out something out or you have something to add, feel free to leave a comment below.

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