It’s been 2 years since we did a review of the leading police drones, and the industry has changed a lot since then. Tech advancements and newer heavy-duty flagships, tighter FAA regulations, push and pull on Capitol Hill regarding the suitability of foreign-based UAVs – there is so much going on. 

Police departments on the other hand are strapped for cash, and need to find drone solutions that have multi-year lifespans and support, to avoid the hassle of frequent upgrades. This has to be balanced with the capabilities of the drones in order to ensure the success of the tasks being carried out – be it surveillance, search and rescue, tactical response, or even crowd control. 

Industry titans like DJI continue to retain a solid grip on the market, but U.S-manufactured drones are quickly gaining ground. It’s time to look at models that are leading the pack, the police departments using them, factors that guided their choices, right down to how much they're investing to bring these UAVs into their daily operations.

Top 12 Law Enforcement Drones Of The Year 

1. DJI Mavic 3 Thermal

First up is the DJI Mavic 3T, part of the Mavic 3 Enterprise series, that was officially launched on September 27, 2022 – and quickly rose to dominate law enforcement operations. It retains its top spot to this day for its high operational capacity without straining department budgets, retailing for under $6000, inclusive of care packages.

The UAV has become a stable for police departments across the U.S., enhancing how officers handle everything from routine surveillance to emergency responses. For instance, in California, the Oakley Police Department has significantly upgraded their capabilities by investing $11,636 in their own DJI Mavic 3T drone, along with two Mavic Mini 3 Pro drones.

The UAVs are now a part of their routine equipment, helping track down suspects and manage crises effectively. The PD are also committed to training their officers regularly on how to use this tech.

Over in Yazoo City, Mississippi, the police department got a boost when BBB Industries donated a Mavic 3T – which is now a key tool for them, particularly useful in high-stakes situations like active shooter incidents or natural disasters.

The Arlington Police Department too received a similar donation from the District 7930 Arlington MA Rotary Club. Chief Julie Flaherty thanked them for it, with Rotary Club President Paul Buckley highlighting the importance of equipping first responders with modern technology to monitor the area more safely and efficiently.

The donation was part of a Rotary District Grant, as part of the club's support to local emergency services and improving community safety.

In Milton, Vermont, the police department's use of the DJI Mavic 3 Thermal has taken a more life-saving direction. After investing $8,271.82 on two drones, one of which was the Mavic 3 Thermal, they faced a situation where an intoxicated individual, lost in the woods and suffering from seizures, needed urgent help. The drone's thermal imaging quickly located the individual among the dense trees, allowing the rescue team to swiftly and safely provide the necessary assistance – and is now a core part of their SAR missions.

Here's what the Mavic 3T brings to law enforcement tasks:

Key Features

• Flight Performance: Extended flight time of up to 45 minutes, with a maximum speed of 47 mph, and capable of operating under strong wind conditions up to 12 m/s (26.8 mph)​.

• Camera Capabilities: Triple-camera system that includes a 48 MP camera with a 1/2” CMOS sensor, alongside a thermal camera that offers a resolution of 640 × 512 px, with a Vanadium Oxide (VOX) sensor, offering a measurement range from -4 to 932°F. 

• Zoom and Resolution: It features a 12MP Zoom Camera that can reach up to 56× Max Hybrid Zoom, allowing detailed observation from considerable distances​​.
Gimbal System: 3-axis gimbal (tilt, roll, pan) that provides stabilization and a wide range of mechanical movements, significantly reducing camera shake and ensuring clear, stable footage​.

• Durability and Operational Conditions: Operates in temperatures ranging from -10° to 40° C (14° to 104° F). For storage, it can handle temperatures from -30° to 60° C (-22° to 140° F) depending on the duration, which makes it suitable for a wide range of climates.

• Real-Time Data Transmission: Uses the DJI O3 Enterprise Transmission system, ensuring a maximum unobstructed transmission distance of up to 15 km under FCC regulations and 8 km under CE, SRRC, and MIC regulations. It supports both 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz frequencies.​

• Ease of Use: It has a compact and portable design that allows for quick deployment. It features a user-friendly interface through the DJI Pilot 2 app, which simplifies the flight and camera operations with accessible controls and a clear presentation of flight details​.

• Battery System: LiPo 4S battery with a capacity of 5000mAh.

• Autonomy and Navigation: Comes with omnidirectional obstacle sensing with six fish-eye sensors, APAS 5.0 for automatic rerouting around obstacles, RTK modules for centimeter-level accuracy, and supports GNSS including GPS, Galileo, and GLONASS for precise navigation.

• Security Features: AES-256 encryption for the video transmission and has a Local Data Mode that prevents the DJI Pilot 2 app from sending or receiving any data over the internet during sensitive flights.

• Scalability and Integration: Supports scaling through its open developer ecosystem, which includes PSDK and MSDK. These SDKs (Software Development Kits) allow third parties to develop compatible hardware and applications. The drone is also part of a full software suite, including DJI Terra for mapping and DJI FlightHub 2 for fleet management, and DJI Thermal Analysis Tool 3.0 for analyzing thermal data.

Designed to endure diverse and challenging conditions, this drone is well-suited for both urban and rural police work. The thermal and high-resolution cameras provide detailed visual and heat signatures, crucial during surveillance or search operations in low-visibility and night conditions. This allows law enforcement teams to gather critical data that supports real-time decision-making in the field.

The 45-minute flight time even puts the Mavic 3 Thermal in the ranks of top long range drones, and since it can operate in strong winds, it’s a key asset during emergency scenarios where conditions keep fluctuating. Its omnidirectional obstacle sensing and APAS 5.0 ensure smooth navigation. The inclusion of RTK modules for centimeter-level positioning accuracy further enhances its utility in precise, high-stakes operations. Security features of this drone are tailored for sensitive law enforcement activities. AES-256 encryption safeguards video transmissions, while the Local Data Mode ensures that no data is sent or received over the internet during operations, protecting the confidentiality of missions. 

More police departments getting their hands on UAVs from the DJI Mavic 3 Enterprise series. For instance, the Chico Police Department plans involved using the drones to produce 3D imagery of crime scenes, enhancing evidence collection and presentation. This acquisition, alongside the Avata drone, comes with a budget consideration of $6,300, whose approval was requested in November 2023 under AB 481 regulations. 

Across the state in Sacramento, the police department had earlier in August sought approval for a range of new military equipment, including several models of drones, with a total new equipment budget of $360,000 for the fiscal year. This included three DJI Mavic 3 Enterprise drones, intended for detailed scene analysis and operational support, and priced at $18,900 for the trio. These drones, with a lifespan of 3 to 5 years, are part of the broader initiative to augment the capabilities of Sacramento police.

And here are some cases of Wharton Police officers using the drone:

Curious about how other law enforcement agencies are fairing when integrating UAVs into their operations and budgets? 

Read: 7 Police Departments Spending At Least $20,000 For Their Drone Programs

2. DJI Matrice 350 RTK

Hot on the heels of the Mavic 3T is newer the DJI Matrice 350 RTK, a premium model that packs more – but of course that means a higher price tag, which is why it has landed second place among the best police drones of the year. It was launched on May 18, 2023 and is the current flagship drone of the brand, loaded with features for public safety agencies.  The drone combo with care plus package ranges at $12,559.00, and the broad capabilities of this UAV make the price worth it. Let’s break them down.

Key Features

• Flight Performance: Up to 55 minutes of flight time (when without payload); Has a maximum payload capacity of 2.7 kg (total max takeoff weight 9.2kg); reaches up to 23 m/s during flight;​​ and can operate up to a height of 5000 meters​ with the 2110s propellers, or 7000m with 2112 high-altitude propellers

• Camera Quality and Night Vision: FPV camera that supports 1080p resolution with a wide 142° field of view; Supports a range of payloads for various applications. Its primary camera options include the Zenmuse H20 series, which integrates multiple sensors such as zoom, wide-angle cameras, a thermal camera, and a laser rangefinder, or the H20N for low-light conditions.

• Real-Time Data Transmission: O3 Enterprise Transmission system that can transmit triple-channel 1080p HD live feeds up to 20 km away; FCC compliant.

• Flight Safety: The drone includes a six-directional sensing and positioning system with binocular vision and infrared sensors.

• Intelligent Battery System:  Uses TB65 Intelligent Flight Batteries with a capacity of 5880mAh and goes up to 400 recharge cycles, reducing the cost per flight​. Dual-battery system supports hot-swapping, which means batteries can be replaced without powering off the drone. 

• Durability and Weather Resistance: IP55 rating, operational from -20° to 50° C​ (-4° to 122° F),  and can withstand wind speeds of up to 12 m/s

• User-Friendly Control: The DJI RC Plus controller, which has a high-brightness 7-inch screen, and is dust and water-resistant (IP54 rated). It supports dual-operator mode, allows one operator to fly the drone while another manages the payloads.

• Navigation and Autonomy: Supports high-precision mapping and automated flight missions like Terrain Follow and Smart Oblique, integrated with systems​ like GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou, and Galileo satellite systems for precise navigation. The drone's RTK technology ensures centimeter-level accuracy for missions requiring precise location data.

• Regulatory Compliance and Security Features: Incorporates AES-256 encryption for secure video transmission. The drone supports network RTK connections via NTRIP protocol for enhanced data security during critical missions.

• Integration and Scalability: Can carry multiple payloads simultaneously, compatible with a variety of third-party devices like multispectral sensors and loudspeakers through the DJI SDK ecosystem

The DJI Matrice 350 is a comprehensive surveillance tool that drastically enhances the effectiveness of police teams, fire departments and other emergency responders. With a flight time approaching an hour, and a max take-off weight of 9.2 kg, this drone can cover extensive areas without the need for constant landings. During searches for a missing person it continuously scour the area, equipped with the Zenmuse H20 series cameras that offer thermal imaging to detect human presence even in low visibility or at night.

The real-time data transmission feature of the DJI Matrice 350 ensures that command centers as far out as 20 km away can receive live, high-definition video feeds. This capability is pivotal during critical incidents like high-speed chases or large public gatherings, where situational awareness from above can dictate the success of ground operations. The integration of AES-256 encryption for video transmission guarantees that sensitive information remains secure from unauthorized access, crucial for maintaining operational integrity and trust within the community.

The Terrain Follow and Smart Oblique features allow the drone to adjust its flight dynamically, navigating complex landscapes without manual intervention. This high level of accuracy and autonomy not only enhances safety by keeping officers out of potentially dangerous situations but also ensures that the drone can be operated effectively with minimal training, making it easier to onboard officers and emergency response teams.

The drone's IP55 rating and high wind resistance ensures it can operate effectively in diverse weather conditions. This resilience is vital during emergencies like natural disasters or public safety threats, where conditions can be unpredictable. Plus the ability to mount loudspeakers means officers can use the drone to communicate with crowds during large events, direct traffic, or even negotiate during hostage situations from a safe distance.

3. Parrot ANAFI USA

With all the politics around Chinese-manufactured drones, public safety agencies in the U.S. are turning to alternatives like the Parrot ANAFI USA. It is manufactured in the United States through a collaboration between Parrot, which is a French company, and NEOTech with production facilities located in the Boston area. 

 The drone has been approved under the Blue sUAS program, making it a trusted choice for U.S. government and defense applications.  You have the likes of the U.S. Coast Guard's innovative approach using the their operators from ships to monitor air, land, and sea, enhancing their reach and effectiveness in complex maritime environments. Similarly, during the Hawaii Firestorm, the Coast Guard deployed the ANAFI USA, utilizing its advanced zoom and thermal imaging to conduct critical post-emergency assessments.

Across the Atlantic in Paris, the Parrot ANAFI USA drones are set to be a key part of the 2024 Summer Olympics, with their effectiveness being seen in surveillance operations conducted by the French Defence Drone School and the 61st Artillery Regiment.

Key Features

• Advanced Imaging and Optics: Dual 21-megapixel cameras, 32x digital zoom, and a FLIR thermal camera for night and heat vision applications​

• Secure Data Handling: The ANAFI USA emphasizes data security with features like SD-Card AES-XTS encryption using a 512-bit key.​

• Operational Performance: 32-minute flight time and can be rapidly deployed within 55 seconds 

• Durability: The drone is IP53 rated, making it resistant to dust and rain; Can withstand multiple falls and is operational after impact from different angles; Operates at temperatures of -36 °C to +50 °C (-33 °F to +122 °F)

• User-Friendly Interface: Equipped with the Parrot Skycontroller 4, which supports enhanced ergonomics; Compatible with the Free Flight 6 USA app

• Real-Time Data Transmission: Secure data transmission through encrypted communication channels; Transmission range of  up to 4 kilometers without compromising the control or quality of the data received; Supported by robust Wi-Fi connectivity

The Anafi USA’s dual high-resolution visual sensors are an asset for gathering critical evidence and maintaining situational awareness. This is especially helpful during post-mission analysis with tools like Parrot’s FreeFlight app and compatible software.

For example, Pix4Dmapper can quickly and accurately map accident scenes, facilitating efficient road clearance, while Pix4Dreact is excellent for detecting fires and locating missing individuals.

The DroneSense platform supports departments in building, managing, and scaling their drone programs, ensuring comprehensive coverage and optimal resource use.

For law enforcement agencies, discretion and efficiency are crucial, whether you're conducting surveillance, search and rescue missions, or investigating crime scenes. The Parrot Anafi USA is pretty handy here, thanks to its exceptionally low noise level. It’s so quiet that it remains undetectable at 130 meters, allowing officers to carry out covert operations without alerting suspects or compromising the mission. Its FLIR Boson thermal sensor enables the drone to locate missing persons or suspects from up to 150 meters away, significantly improving the safety and effectiveness of search and rescue missions.

Another major benefit of the Anafi USA is its time and cost efficiency. The drone can be deployed in less than 55 seconds, from packed to hand-launched, making it ready to respond swiftly in critical situations. Its compact and foldable design means it can be easily carried and deployed in various scenarios. The user-friendly interface minimizes the need for extensive training, allowing officers to operate the drone with minimal preparation. Additionally, its secure WPA2 Wi-Fi connection and robust SD card encryption ensure data protection during highly confidential missions. Plus it’s compliant with the National Defense Authorization Act  and Trade Agreements Act, adding to the list of reasons why police departments use it to enhance their operational capabilities.

How much does the Parrot Anafi USA cost? It’s available for $7000 on DSLRPros.

4. Skydio X10

Up next is another U.S-made drone that’s a common sight over Miami beaches. The Skydio X10 drone was launched on September 20, 2023, and is manufactured at the brand's facility in Hayward, California.  

The Miami Beach Police Department has incorporated the Skydio X10 alongside its existing fleet of Skydio S2+ and X2 drones, using them for traffic monitoring, accident scenes, and managing large public events. The department values the X10 for its advanced features, like obstacle avoidance and night vision, which significantly boost their capability to maintain safety during high-profile events such as Art Week and New Year's Eve celebrations – all through to Spring Break 2024.

In Las Vegas, the Metropolitan Police Department has integrated the Skydio X10 into their operations to support various critical tasks such as SWAT operations, crime scene documentation, and search and rescue missions. This adoption is part of their broader strategy to utilize cutting-edge technology to improve community safety. 

The Verizon Frontline Crisis Response Team has also started using the Skydio X10, making it their primary operational drone. Its ability to fly autonomously in complete darkness and quick setup, is ideal for urgent search and rescue operations and managing crisis situations effectively.

Its advanced camera systems and streaming capabilities ensure that critical information is readily available, helping to make swift decisions that can save lives. Here’s how it stacks up:

Key Features

• Flight Performance:  Capable of flying up to 7.5 miles with Skydio Connect SL or unlimited range via Skydio Connect 5G under cellular coverage; Has a max flight time of 40 minutes, flight speed of 16 m/s (36mph), and handles winds of up to 12.8 m/s (28 mph)

• Camera Quality and Night Vision: Camera system includes a 48MP telephoto, a 50.3MP wide camera, and a 64MP narrow camera; Also features a FLIR Boson+ thermal camera for night vision and thermal sensitivity​ .

• Real-Time Data Transmission: Supports transmission via Wi-Fi 6 .and cellular LTE/5G for reliable data offload and streaming.

• Navigation: Autonomous navigation with the help of onboard AI and NVIDIA Jetson Orin GPU; handles complex missions in GPS-denied or high EMI environments​ ​

• Durability and Weather Resistance: IP55 rating that ensures it is resistant to dust and water splashes; Operates between -20° to 45°C 

• Regulatory Compliance and Security: NDAA compliant, uses AES-256 encrypted data links, and encrypted internal storage.

With its rapid startup time of under 40 seconds and ability to be deployed directly from a patrol vehicle, the Skydio X10 allows officers to quickly establish an aerial view at the scene of an incident. This is particularly benefical for scenarios such as 911 calls, where every second counts. In addition to rapid deployment, the Skydio X10 is equipped with high-quality sensors that capture detailed data essential for law enforcement. The onboard cameras, including thermal imaging, are powerful enough to detect minute details such as a 0.1mm crack in concrete. This capability can be especially useful in post-incident analyses, search and rescue missions, and surveillance operations.

The X10’s design includes advanced autonomy and robust connectivity options, including 5G, which enables it to operate in complex environments with minimal human input. Such connectivity allows for and data transmission from anywhere, that way officers can monitor and control the drone remotely without worrying about signal loss or data delays. 

While its wind resistance is comparable to competing flagship models like the DJI Matrice 350 RTK, the latter's maximum horizontal flight speed of 23 m/s is faster, offering quicker response times over large areas. The M350 also has a higher payload capacity, allowing it to carry more or heavier instruments which is important for versatile missions requiring multiple sensors or specialized equipment. The Skydio x10 has a maximum takeoff weight of 2.49 kg (5.49 lbs), while the M350 is 9.2 kg (20.28 lbs).

Also Read: Guide For Picking Long Range Drones [Examples & Features Included]

For night operations or in conditions where visibility is compromised, as the X10 is equipped with NightSense technology that allows for flight in zero-light environments. Such capabilities make it an asset for surveillance, search and rescue missions, or monitoring large public events, ensuring law enforcement can maintain oversight without putting officers at unnecessary risk.

The X10D model takes things further with its multi-band radio that resists link jamming, a common challenge in high-stakes operations (model only available for military use and federal agencies). Regarding cost, the drone does not have a listed price directly on the Skydio website. It can vary based on configurations, sensor packages, and additional services or accessories selected, and buyers would need to contact Skydio directly through their sales or support channels.

5. Autel EVO II Dual 640T V3

Back to foreign-manufactured drones since they are still heavyweights in public safety agency operations. It’s not hard to see why, especially with models like the Evo II V3 series from Autel – specifically the long-range 640T model, that was released in October 2022 together with 5 other drones. 

One of the exciting updates in the EVO II V3 series was the extended communication range, significantly enhancing operational capabilities. While the V2 model supported transmission up to 9 kilometers, the V3 version now offers a remarkable 15-kilometer range thanks to Autel's SkyLink 2.0, allowing pilots to cover more ground efficiently. The drone’s design includes additional vents for improved cooling, ensuring optimal performance during extended flights. Its compact and foldable structure allows for quick deployment, making it highly practical for emergency and rapid response situations​. Plus it’s a pretty fast drone, which, coupled with its imaging tech and data handling features, earns the Autel EVO II Dual 640T a spot in 2024’s ranking of top law enforcement drones.

Key Features

• Flight Performance: Up to 38 minutes of flight time and a top speed of 45 mph; Can withstand winds up to 39 mph; 2 lbs payload capacity 

• Camera System: 50MP visual camera with a 1/1.28" RYYB CMOS sensor and a thermal camera with 640x512 resolution; Thermal camera has 13mm focal length lens and 16x digital zoom.

• Data Capabilities: SkyLink 2.0 video transmission technology, supporting HD video transmission up to 9.3 miles (15 km) and QHD video within a mile; Tri-band communication and frequency hopping reduce interference.

• Durability: Operates in temperatures from -4°F to 104°F and has an IP43 rating; Foldable design for rapid deployment

• Controller System: The Smart Controller V3 with a 7.9-inch display with 2000 nits of brightness for visibility even in direct sunlight; Supports third-party apps through its custom Android OS.

• Navigaton and Safety: 360-degree obstacle avoidance using 19 groups of sensors for real-time path planning and 3D mapping; Supports live streaming via Live Deck 2 and operates without built-in no-fly zones; No fly zone added in December 2023.

The advanced dual-camera system of the drone, with its 640x512 30Hz HD thermal imaging camera and a 50-megapixel visual camera, brings versatility to police operations and for other agencies like fire departments. For instance, during nighttime search and rescue missions, the thermal camera's 13mm focal length lens and 16x digital zoom can quickly locate heat signatures from missing persons or suspects, even in difficult terrains.

The visual camera, enhanced by the Moonlight Algorithm 2.0 and a unique RYYB sensor, excels in low-light conditions, ensuring officers can capture clear, high-resolution images for forensic analysis or real-time decision-making. This combination of thermal and visual imaging capabilities enables law enforcement to adapt swiftly to various scenarios, for both situational awareness and operational efficiency. Your police department can get the EVO II Dual 640T V3 rugged bundle for under $5800.

Its performance and safety features make it valuable for extended aerial operations. In addition to the 15 km transmission range, it has a powerful battery that allows for up to 40 minutes of continuous flight, providing ample time for comprehensive area surveys, suspect tracking, or crowd monitoring without the need for frequent recharges. 

The V3 is equipped with 19 sets of sensors, including 12 visual sensors, ultrasonography, and IMUs, which facilitate real-time path planning and three-dimensional mapping. These features ensure safe and efficient flight operations, even in complex environments, giving police departments the confidence to deploy the drone in various high-stakes situations.

The user-friendly control system is a plus, with the Smart Controller SE that has an 8-core processor and a 6.4-inch OLED touch screen, providing HD picture transmission. The triple-band frequency hopping and SkyLink 2.0 Transmission technology enhance anti-interference capabilities, ensuring stable and reliable long-distance operations. Unlike the V2, which had a more limited transmission range and display capabilities, the V3 supports live streaming via Live Deck 2 and offers improved battery capacity, providing up to 4.5 hours of operation at 50% brightness. This advanced control system, coupled with the rugged design and IP43 weather resistance, makes the EVO II Dual 640T V3 an asset for police departments, facilitating effective and efficient management of public safety missions. 

We did a full review of the EVO II Dual 640T V3, including enterprise applications and FAQs here

6. DJI Matrice 30T

Despite politics from some quarters about the use of foreign-based technology in policing, U.S. police departments still opt for DJI drones, valued for their cost-effectiveness and advanced capabilities. In Fremont, California, the local police and fire departments have initiated a Drone First Responder (DFR) program using the DJI Matrice 30T. The drone is launched from a rooftop near the heart of Fremont and is controlled by specially trained police and fire department personnel. This operation has received the green light from the Federal Aviation Administration to fly beyond the operator's line of sight. This means operators can enter an address, and the drone will autonomously fly to the location using GPS, and once it arrives, a human takes over the controls. As such, the drones arrive on scene before human responders, providing crucial real-time video that aids in assessing situations and planning resource deployment. 

The M30T also in use in Niles City

According to Fremont Police Captain Matt Snelson, the decision to use these high-end consumer drones, costing around $10,000 each, is driven by their cost-effectiveness compared to more expensive models that quickly become obsolete. This strategic choice allows for frequent technology updates without the financial burden of discarding costly equipment whenever a newer version is released.

Elsewhere, the Glenwood Springs Police Department in Colorado demonstrated the versatility of the DJI Matrice 30T during a public event in Rifle. Acquired with a $20,000 Federal Lease District grant, this drone features thermal imaging and 200-times zoom cameras, enhancing its utility in diverse missions from searching for lost children to monitoring mudslide risks. The drone's high mobility and the ability to swap control among operators mid-flight underscore its adaptability to various public safety tasks. Officer Logann Crawford, reflecting on the drone's value, stated, “If we can find one lost child with it, it pays for itself.”

In Sacramento, the sheriff's office has put forward a request for additional drones to enhance their operational capabilities. The requested drones include the DJI Matrice 30T, known for its thermal and high-zoom cameras, which prove essential for both day and night operations. These drones, costing around $14,000 each, are expected to significantly aid in managing incidents across the extensive county terrain. 

The deployment strategy includes using drones for situations like human trafficking interventions and organized retail theft, emphasizing their strategic importance in contemporary law enforcement.

The Tiverton Police Department in Rhode Island recently launched a public safety drone program, adding a DJI Mavic 3T that we looked at earlier in this list, and a DJI Matrice 30 Series drone to their resources. Funded by a $6,000 state grant, these drones are deployed in various critical situations including search and rescue, crime scene investigations, and disaster responses, strictly adhering to FAA regulations. The initiative reflects a growing trend among police departments to adopt drone technology to enhance safety and efficiency in operations. Chief Patrick Jones expressed optimism about the potential impacts of this technology on both local and regional public safety efforts. 

Here is what this long-range police drone brings to department and agency operations:

Key Features

• Camera System: Dual thermal and visual camera system. Wide camera with a 1/2" CMOS sensor, offering 12M effective pixels and a video resolution up to 3840×2160. The lens has a field of view of 84° with a focal length equivalent to 24mm. The thermal camera includes an uncooled VOx Microbolometer, supports high-resolution thermal imaging, and measures temperatures ranging from -20° to 500° C​.

• Flight Performance: Capable of flying up to 41 minutes per battery charge; Clocks a top speed of 75 ft/s (23m/s) and can operate at altitudes up to 22,965 ft (7000m).​ It has an operating temperature range from -20° to 50° C​ and maximum 12 m/s wind resistance 

• Real-Time Data Transmission: O3 Enterprise technology that supports dual-band transmission with a maximum range of 15 km under FCC regulations in unobstructed environments and around 9 km with interference​​. 

• Battery and Power: It uses a TB30 Intelligent Flight Battery with a capacity of 5880 mAh, providing up to 6 hours of operation when used with both internal and external batteries. The drone supports hot-swapping for continuous operations.

• Controller: Comes with a 7.02-inch, 1920×1200p, high-brightness LCD touchscreen and supports both internal and external batteries for extended operational control​​.

• Build and Durability: Rated IP55 for water and dust resistance, making it suitable for various environmental conditions from rain to dusty environments. It also includes self-heating capabilities for the batteries to operate in cold conditions​ – automatically enabled at temperatures below 10° C (50° F)​.

Agencies can get DSLRPros Matrice 30T Urban Fleet Package for law enforcement, with FPV Camera, Laser Rangefinder, RC Plus Remote Controller and DJI Care Enterprise Basic Coverage for as low as $9,637.00

• Intelligent Features: Advanced sensor fusion for pinpointing objects and coordinates; Enhanced navigation displays for improved flight safety and efficient route planning with FlightHub 2, supporting real-time data synchronization and cloud mapping​.

The DJI Matrice 30T is particularly well-suited for police operations due to its camera and sensor capabilities. Its high-resolution thermal camera enables it to identify heat signatures day or night, which is critical for search and rescue missions or surveillance operations. The ability to detect temperature variations as slight as 50 mK and measure extensive temperature ranges enhances its utility in various scenarios, from finding missing persons in challenging terrains to detecting hidden equipment or substances. The dual-vision setup allows law enforcement to maintain visual awareness and thermal tracking simultaneously, ensuring comprehensive situational awareness.

For extended operations, the Matrice 30T's advanced battery technology and power management system come in handy. Police officers get up to six hours of flight time when using both its internal and external batteries, along with a hot-swapping feature that allows batteries to be changed without power-down, minimizing downtime during critical missions. This capability ensures that operations can continue without interruption, which is crucial during extended search operations or continuous surveillance. The self-heating battery system also enables the drone to operate effectively in cold conditions, ensuring reliability regardless of environmental challenges​​.

Also Read: The Top 12 Search & Rescue Drones of the Year

TheIP55 rating ensures the DJI M30T can withstand rain, wind, and dust, making it suitable for demanding conditions typical in police and rescue operations.  Furthermore, features like advanced sensor fusion technology, which can pinpoint and relay the coordinates of objects of interest, combined with an optimized interface for navigation and obstacle detection, ensure that pilots can operate safely while focusing on mission-critical tasks.

While it’s a high-end model, its durability, advanced imaging capabilities, and portability make it a cost-effective solution for law enforcement agencies needing a reliable drone for a wide range of operations​. You can get  the DJI Matrice 30T with two TB30 Intelligent Flight Batteries and complete DJI Care Plus package, all for $10,114.00 on DSLRPros.

7. Teledyne FLIR SIRAS™

The Teledyne FLIR SIRAS drone was officially released on September 6, 2022. It is manufactured by the Coretronic Intelligent Robotics Corporation (CIRC) in Taiwan, although the final integration of its payload and quality control checks are completed in the United States. This hybrid approach leverages the manufacturing capabilities of Taiwan while ensuring the final product meets the stringent quality standards required by U.S. regulations and market expectations.

One unique aspect of the Teledyne FLIR SIRAS is its radiometric thermal camera and a high-res 16MP visible camera. The drone also incorporates FLIR's patented MSX technology, which enhances thermal images with edge detail from the visible camera, providing clearer and more informative images.

Key Features

• Durability and Reliability: IP54 rating, operates in temperatures from -10°C to 40°C, and wind-resistant up to 5 m/s​.

• Flight Performance: Maximum speed of 40 mph, 31-minute flight time, and return-to-home features​​.

• Camera Quality and Night Vision: Dual camera system with a 16MP visible camera and a 640x512 FLIR Boson thermal camera, capable of 20x digital zoom and enhanced with FLIR MSX technology for superior image quality​​.

• Real-Time Data Transmission: Supports dual-band Wi-Fi for robust video streaming up to a distance of 9 km​​.

• Ease of Use: User-friendly interface with quick-connect gimbal systems and no geofencing restrictions​​.

• Security Features: Onboard microSD storage, no internet or cloud connectivity required, ensuring secure data handling​​.

• Scalability and Integration: Compatible with leading photogrammetry software, allowing integration with existing technology stacks​.

The Teledyne FLIR SIRAS drone’s flight performance capabilities, from the 40 mph max speed to the 31 minute flight duration, enable rapid response and sustained coverage during critical missions such as active surveillance or rapid deployment to crime scenes. 

The drone's advanced collision avoidance technology and design for operation without geofencing restrictions allow law enforcement officers to operate in diverse and unpredictable environments, ranging from urban landscapes to rural areas, enhancing its usability across various operational scenarios.

This flexibility ensures that police forces can deploy the drone effectively, regardless of geographical or environmental challenges- and the Teledyne FLIR SIRAS has been competitively priced at $9,695, with a focus on reducing long-term operational costs​.

The dual camera system of the16MP visible light camera and a 640x512 FLIR Boson thermal camera, provides detailed imaging and effective detection of heat signatures, even in low-light or no-light conditions. This is particularly valuable during night-time operations, allowing officers to locate and monitor suspects or victims in obscured environments.

The ability to stream video data in real-time over distances up to 9 km enables command centers to receive live updates, facilitating immediate strategic decisions and coordination. These features collectively enhance the operational effectiveness of police units, ensuring higher levels of security and operational efficiency.

8. Anzu Raptor Thermal

While every UAV is gunning for the top spot among drones for law enforcement, 2024’s rankings are pretty unique because we have a drone that shares lots of similarities with the #1 on the list. The Anzu Raptor Thermal is modelled after the DJI Mavic 3 Thermal – right down to the hardware that has been used. 

How did this come about? We’ve already talked about how there has been growing concerns from the political class about using Chinese-manufactured drones. Well, Texas-based Anzu Robotics has worked around these issues with its Raptor series, manufacturing the hardware components in Malaysia while ensuring that all software development and data hosting is handled in the United States by Aloft Technologies, which is based in Syracuse, New York State. After assembly, the drones are shipped to the United States for firmware installation and quality checks.  

Anzu has entered into a licensing agreement with DJI, which allows them to use DJI's platforms to enhance their own drones used by police. This partnership includes custom features like high-resolution cameras and extended flight capabilities, ensuring that Anzu maintains full control over their software and data security despite the hardware collaboration​. Plus all the data collected by the Raptor drones is securely stored on US-based servers, encrypted with AES-256 to ensure that your information is protected against unauthorized access.

The Raptor series was launched in April 2024 to provide an alternative for those looking for secure, reliable, and technologically advanced drones without the geopolitical baggage often associated with drones from certain regions. It's reengineered from DJI Mavic 3 series, and includes the Raptor and the Raptor Thermal, the latter of which has made it to this year’s top picks for police UAVs.

Key Features

• Advanced Camera System: Equipped with a dual-camera setup including a 48 MP camera and a 640x512 LWIR thermal camera, complemented by a 56x hybrid zoom capability​​.

• Flight Performance: Up to 45 minutes of flight time on a single charge​.

• Operational Range and Wind Resistance: Capable of operating over a range of 9 miles and can withstand wind speeds up to 26 mph

• Data Security: AES-256 encryption for data transmission;  all information stored on US-based servers that are ISO 27001 and SOC 2 Type II certified.

• Portability and Versatility: Each unit weighs approximately 2 pounds, facilitating ease of transport and deployment.

• Live Streaming and Fleet Management: Through optional features of the Air Control app, the drone supports live streaming and comprehensive fleet management, facilitating real-time operational coordination and data sharing.

The thermal imaging capability of the Raptor T is crucial for law enforcement, especially during night operations, allowing officers to detect heat signatures from a distance. This feature is particularly useful for surveillance and search-and-rescue missions in low visibility conditions.

Additionally, the drone's extended flight time of up to 45 minutes per charge, like the DJI variant, as you will see when comparing the Raptor vs Mavic 3, police can conduct prolonged missions without the need for frequent landings to recharge. This is especially beneficial during extended operations, ensuring that there is minimal downtime and operations can continue smoothly and efficiently. The drone’s ability to stream video in real-time also aids in operational coordination, providing ground teams with immediate visual insights to make informed decisions quickly – another important feature for police surveillance drones.

Aspects such as the durability and wind resistance up to 26 mph and a 9-mile operational range, enhance its usability in various environmental conditions.  This makes it an excellent tool for police operations across large areas, such as monitoring public events, or conducting aerial searches in rural or challenging terrains. Do note that it doesn't have an Ingress Protection (IP) rating though. 

We took a complete breakdown of these and more aspects of the drone, together with the relationship of Anzu and DJI, in our piece on “Raptor Series: An In-depth Review and Analysis Of Anzu Robotics' Latest Drones” 

The 2024 Anzu Raptor Thermal the newest police drone on this list. Based on the widespread popularity of the Mavic 3T that it is based on, and without the geopolitics that weigh down the latter, it’s bound to make lots of ground for public safety applications, especially law enforcement and emergency response. Your department can get it from DSLRPros for $7,699, a package that includes 1-year protection.

9. Autel Evo Max 4N

One of the best night drones on the market, the Autel Evo Max 4N had to land a spot here. After all, a huger part of police work involves such challenging environments, and the UAVs have to be up to the task. This model was released in April 2023 and is a part of the broader Evo Max series that also includes the Max 4T which made a name for itself in commercial applications.

Key Features

• Camera System: Features a super-starlight camera with a 2.3MP sensor capable of ultra-low light performance up to ISO 450,000 and zoom range of 1-8x​; 640x512 thermal camera with 16x digital zoom; 50MP wide camera with 1/1.28 CMOS sensor.

• Advanced Flight Performance: Up to 42 minutes of flight time and a max horizontal speed of 23 m/s​; Withstands wind speeds up to 12 m/s (27 mph).

• Durability and Weather resistance: IP43-rated, ensuring operation in diverse weather conditions, including rain and dust​​; Operational range from -20° to 50°C.

• Real-Time Data Transmission: Equipped with Autel SkyLink 3.0, offering up to 20 km (12.4 miles) transmission range with low latency and high-definition video streaming​.

• Intuitive and Robust Control System: Comes with the Autel Smart Controller V3, featuring a high-brightness 7.9-inch display and customizable controls​.

• 720° Omni-Directional Sensing: Uses "dual fisheye vision + millimeter-wave radar" for all-weather operational capabilities and obstacle avoidance, ensuring safety and reliability even in adverse weather conditions

• SLAM Visual Navigation Technology: Offers stable flight with high-precision indoor and outdoor navigation even when satellite signals are obstructed or weakened, crucial for operating in urban environments with high-rise buildings​

• Battery: 8070mAh LiPo 4S battery that supports hot swapping; includes self-heating function that automatically kicks in when temperatures go below 10° C (50° F),

The EVO Max 4N is equipped with a HyperStar-level night vision camera alongside a hyper-sensitive wide-angle camera, a thermal imaging camera, and a laser rangefinder. This powerful combination of sensors allows for exceptional perception capabilities in all weather conditions, facilitating operations at any time of the day. The drone’s capacity to identify and track up to 64 different targets simultaneously, with an accuracy rate exceeding 85%, provides critical support in real-time decision-making during surveillance or emergency response scenarios. 

With A-Mesh Networking, police have a smoother time facilitating operations in challenging terrains and long-distance flights without network coverage. It allows multiple devices to form a free network among drones and ground terminals, supporting various operational modes such as "one control, multiple drones" and "master-slave dual control." That way drones can operate collaboratively for those complex missions.

As part of the EVO Max series, the 4N is designed with comprehensive autonomous flight technology that includes real-time environmental data collection, 3D scene reconstruction, and sophisticated obstacle avoidance capabilities. This makes it easier to work in environments like urban landscapes, dense forests, and rugged terrains. 

Given that it can autonomously navigate and return to base, it enhances both the safety and efficiency of police operations. The drone even allows for precise navigation without relying on GNSS, which is a plus when law enforcement teams are operating in GNSS-denied environments. When it comes to the price, you can get the Autel EVO Max 4N Bundle for $12,599.00 on DSLRPros.

10. RMUS Heavy Duty Police Drone

This UAV is the result of a collaboration between RMUS and Realtime Robotics (RtR). It’s a high-performance, multi-payload tactical drone package, built on RtR’s HERA platform, specifically designed for police applications. Manufactured in-house by the U.S.-owned Realtime Robotics, the drone includes airframes, electronics, payloads, ground control stations, and more. Marking its 10-year anniversary in 2024, RMUS has listed the drone at starting price at $35,000, making it one of the pricier options on this list.

Key Features

• Flight Performance: Maximum flight time of up to 56 minutes without payload; Capable of carrying a payload of up to 33 lbs (15 kg); Maximum flight speed of 25 mph (40 km/h)

• Camera Quality: Equipped with a Sony IMX577 12.3MP CMOS sensor for high-resolution 4K video and 12MP stills; FLIR thermal sensor with a resolution of 320x256; Features a VianSight EO-IR super zoom camera incorporating Sony FCB-EV9500 and FLIR Boson 640x512 for rapid scouting and searching.

• Real-Time Data Transmission: RF data transmission module options from Doodle Labs or Microhard for reliable communication; Control and video transmission range of up to 10 km.

• Navigation: 360° obstacle avoidance; Autonomous navigation capabilities with 6x cameras in a trinocular configuration; Onboard AI for real-time tracking and identification of up to 20 objects, with features like point-of-interest orbit and visual return-to-home.

• Durability and Weather Resistance: IP54 rating for protection against dust and water; Wind resistance up to 23 mph; operational in temperatures from -10°C to 43°C.

• Regulatory Compliance and Security Features: NDAA compliant; AES-256 encryption for wireless communication, encrypted SD cards for media storage; Firmware is signed and encrypted, with secure provisioning and deprovisioning of devices.

The drone’s multi-payload capability allows it to carry up to four payloads simultaneously. This feature is particularly beneficial in search and rescue missions, enabling the drone to deliver medical kits or life vests independently and swiftly. With its ability to deploy in under a minute, the drone ensures rapid response times, critical in emergency situations. 

Equipped with the advanced VianSight EO-IR super zoom camera, the drone enhances surveillance capabilities by integrating Sony and FLIR technology. This high-resolution camera system significantly improves scouting and search operations, offering detailed thermal imaging and extensive zoom capabilities. The drone's LED spotlight, capable of emitting 32,000 lumens, is particularly beneficial for nighttime operations. This powerful combination of optical and thermal imaging ensures that law enforcement officers have the best possible visual tools at their disposal, regardless of lighting conditions.

The dual touch screens and data transmission modules of the RMUS Heavy Duty Law Enforcement Drone provide reliable communication over long distances, up to 10 kilometers. However this is less than other lower priced police drones that we’ve looked at. It’s smaller 2500mAh battery capacity also means reduced hours of operation when compared to them. 

Also Read: Top 4 DJI Camera Drones for Extended Battery Life – Feature Review & Analysis

The advanced obstacle avoidance system and onboard AI of the RMUS drone enable precise navigation and tracking of multiple targets, enhancing operational efficiency. Given that it is fully NDAA compliant, this ensures high cybersecurity standards, making it a secure and reliable choice for police departments. Plus it comes ‘Ready-to-deploy’ out of the box, so officers won’t need to spend valuable time on setup and calibration.

11. Yuneec H520E

Here you have a hexacopter engineered primarily for commercial applications, yet it proves to be a highly effective resource for law enforcement purposes as well. Priced at approximately $2800, the aircraft itself is just the starting point, as total costs will vary based on the selection of compatible payloads and care packages available from drone resellers. This versatile UAV is compatible with a variety of payloads, such as the E90X with 4K video capabilities, CGOETx for thermal imaging, and E30ZX which offers up to 30x optical zoom. These features allow police forces to conduct detailed accident scene reconstructions, crowd monitoring, and surveillance with precision and efficiency.

Key Features

• Flight Performance: Capable of flying for 25-30 minutes under optimal conditions; 6-rotor system with a 5-rotor failsafe for continued flight even if one rotor fails; Maximum flight height of 500 meters and a top speed of 20m/s.

• Camera Capabilities: Supports multiple camera options with capabilities such as 4K video, up to 30x optical zoom, and thermal imaging; Cameras are equipped with a 30-pin X-connector for quick swapping and integration; Embedded GPS data in camera systems for precise geotagging of imagery.

• Data Transmission: Secure data transmission up to 1.7 miles with OFDM support; Live video streaming via an HDMI output from the ST16E ground station to larger monitors.

• Ease of Use: Android-based ST16E ground station with a 7-inch touchscreen for intuitive control; Comprehensive DataPilot™ software integrated.

• Battery System: 4S-6200mAh LiPo battery 

• Autonomy and Navigation: Has high-precision, low-interference compass allows for flying in challenging environments; Includes return home functionality and geo-fencing to keep the drone within a predefined radius.

• Security Features: Closed system design prevents any involuntary data transfer to external servers; Redundant control signals and built-in safety protocols to enhance operational security.

• Scalability and Integration: Third-party payload compatibility with an open-source SDK; Modular design allows for easy adaptation to meet different application needs.

12. JOUAV CW-15

Closing off 2024’s ranking of top police UAVs is another model from JOUAV, this time the smaller, battery-powered CW-15. This compact drone is designed to deliver long endurance and versatile functionality, flying up to 180 minutes on a single charge. This is compared to the 8 hours we had seen earlier with the JOUAV CW-30E. Despite the reduced operational scope, the CW-15 still packs enough to land it a spot among the heavy hitters of the year. 

Key Features

• Engine and Flight Performance: Has a low-noise, brushless electro motor that powers up for a maximum flight time of 180 minutes; Cruises at speeds of up to 61 km/h and handles winds  of up to 13.8 m/s; Vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) capability drone

• Camera and Payload Options: Can handle a variety of payloads up to 3 kg and supports 61 MP full-frame CA-103  camera, the high-res PhaseOne iXM Series Camera and the MG-120E  Gimbal Camera which has 30X optical zoom and thermal sensors.

• Autonomy and Ease of Use: The CW-15 simplifies drone operations with features like automatic pre-flight checks, magnet compass auto-calibration, and a user-friendly visualization controller. 

• Advanced Navigation and Safety: Precise vertical and horizontal positioning accuracies of 3 cm and 1 cm + 1 ppm respectively; the CW-15 ensures top-notch navigational precision; Comes with active obstacle avoidance, drone detection via ADS-B modules, and automatic recovery systems for handling faults during flight.

The 180-minute flight time allows police using the JOUAV CW-15 to conduct long-duration surveillance missions. Additionally, its cruising speed of 61 km/h and ability to fly at altitudes up to 6500 meters enable it to cover large areas quickly and effectively.

The CW-15's multi-purpose capabilities make it a versatile tool for various law enforcement tasks. With a maximum payload capacity of 3 kilograms, it can carry different types of sensors and cameras, making it ideal for mapping, surveillance, and public safety missions. For instance, during a search for a missing person, the drone can be equipped with thermal imaging cameras to detect body heat signatures, even in challenging terrain. Its vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) feature ensures that it can be deployed and recovered from confined spaces, such as urban environments, without the need for a traditional runway.

Its active safety technology includes obstacle avoidance and the ability to detect other drones equipped with ADS-B modules, minimizing the risk of collisions. This is particularly beneficial during high-stakes operations and tactical responses, where maintaining a clear and secure aerial perspective is crucial. 

Moreover, the CW-15's versatility is amplified by its advanced software support. These include Eagle Map that enables real-time surveillance, allowing police departments to deploy the drone for ongoing security monitoring, track movements, and respond rapidly to any incidents; as well as FlightSurv which offers capabilities for flight planning, data collection, and analysis, which are needed for pre-operation planning and post-mission analysis. Just like its predecessor on this list, it does not have a specific publicly listed price easily accessible online. Actual cost would depend on customization provided by the brand.

Drones In Policing – Stealth, Speed And Everything In Between

And just like that, we've reached the end of this year’s top performing drones for police departments. It’s a field that’s always dynamic, bringing new technologies and capabilities to law enforcement agencies around the world – as well as evolving laws that govern their usage. We’re excited to see how the rest of the year will unfold, and as always, we'll be here to keep you updated with the latest developments.

Our Advanced UAS Operator Training Course in Los Angeles is designed to enhance the skills of drone operators from novice to expert levels. This course covers everything from basic UAS operations and FAA Part 107 preparation to advanced applications like 3D mapping and nighttime operations. Each module provides hands-on experience with the latest drone technologies, ensuring participants are well-prepared for a variety of public safety scenarios. Whether you're starting out or looking to specialize, our comprehensive training will empower your officers with the knowledge and skills needed for effective drone use in public safety.

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Is your police department is considering integrating drones into its operations and needs guidance on selecting the right equipment? Get in touch with our supportive team at  (877) 299-1075 / (213) 262-9436 or email