Law enforcement agencies are increasingly turning to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as “drones,” to assist officers in their daily duties. As per a 2020 study by the Bard Institute, a total of 1,578 state and local public safety agencies own drones in the United States. The study also reveals that 70 per cent of disclosed public safety agencies with drones work in law enforcement.
Police departments use drones to help them respond quickly to incidents, map out crime scenes, scout locations before an operation begins, conduct rescue missions and ensure the safety of everybody involved in an operation.
In addition to helping officers respond more efficiently, law enforcement drones can also assist with evidence collection, especially when dealing with accidents over a large area or crimes involving multiple victims.
But not all drone models are cut out for law enforcement operations. Police drones need to have certain features to be effective. They must be able to fly for longer periods of time without running out of power, they should have built-in cameras and sensors so they can collect data from a distance, and they should be equipped with GPS technology.
DSLRPros has been at the forefront of the drone revolution in law enforcement. For over a decade, DSLRPros has been the preferred partner for public safety agencies all over the country to supply them with the perfect aerial solution for their specific needs. Our team has seen a lot of advancements in drone technology even over the last few years.
Here is our pick of the top 5 law enforcement drones that are built to augment police work.
1. Brinc Lemur S (Especially Designed for Law Enforcement)
The Brinc Lemur S is designed specifically for law enforcement use. It's an indoor drone developed in collaboration with law enforcement that can assist emergency response teams in dangerous and life-threatening situations that are too risky for first responders.
How Can The Lemur S Help Law Enforcement?
For starters, the Lemur S can be deployed in 45 seconds. With a flight time of over 30 minutes, perch time of 10 hours, and a two-way audio system, the Lemur S can be a lifesaver in hostage situations, negotiations and even search and rescue operations.
What's more, this robust UAV can break glass and make entry into a building, open doors, navigate zero-light environments and drop payloads. If it crashes, it can flip over and reposition itself into the correct orientation through its Turtle Mode. In addition, it can fly indoors without GPS and inspect every room of a building. After a suspect has been located, a negotiation can be initiated through the two-way speaker system.
The beauty of Lemur S lies in its ability to secure a location, gather critical information, and ascertain the gravity of a dangerous situation before a police officer is sent into a potentially dangerous location. Depending on the nature of the operation, it even has the potential to eliminate the need for SWAT teams and first responders to expose themselves to high-risk situations. This drone is an effective force multiplier that can help first responders gather critical situational awareness and form a strategy before entering a scene.
The Brinc Lemur S Tactical Operations Package from DSLRPros is a great choice for law enforcement agencies looking to ensure they have everything they need to to conduct effective law enforcement operations with this drone.
2. DJI Matrice 300 RTK
The DJI Matrice 300 RTK is an easy-to-use commercial drone with many law enforcement applications. With up to 55 minutes of flight time and a payload capacity of up to 2.5 kg, this aircraft outclasses almost every other drone out there. Coupled with advanced AI capabilities, 6 directional sensing and positioning and transmission range of up to 15km, this drone could easily be one of the most capable first responders in an emergency situation.
How Can The DJI Matrice 300 RTK Help Law Enforcement?
The Pinpoint and Smart Track features are of particular relevance to law enforcement.
With the Pinpoint feature, you can quickly mark objects on the camera or map by tapping it once. Advanced sensor fusion algorithms then instantly calculate their coordinates, which are displayed as an augmented reality (AR) marker. The subject’s location is automatically transmitted to another remote controller or online platforms such as DJI FlightHub. This could be very useful in search and rescue operations.
Smart Track can help police to identify and track moving objects. So if there's a suspect on the run, either on foot or in a car, the dynamic location coordinates being sent back constantly to the operator can facilitate apprehension.
Furthermore, dual control functionality allows more than one police officer to control the drone allowing greater flexibility during critical missions. The Matrice 300 also has an Automatic Obstacle Avoidance system that enables it to detect and avoid collisions. Overall, the Matrice 300 can greatly help any police department looking for a reliable drone solution.
Unlike consumer drones, the M300 is a particularly versatile craft in part due to its ability to change payloads. The M300 has the ability to carry one, two, or even three different payloads simultaneously. What this means is that law enforcement officers are able to utilize various technologies as needed, when they would otherwise be limited to just a traditional visible camera in many other situations.
An excellent payload configuration for law enforcement is the DJI Zenmuse H20 paired with the Wingsland Z15 spotlight. The H20 has incredible optics, sporting a 23× hybrid optical zoom, 200× max zoom. If that weren't enough the payload features a separate wide angle camera and a laser rangefinder, which is used to measure the distance between the aircraft and an object. The Zenmuse Z15 spotlight is a great combination for the H20, as it provides for a large amount of illumination from above, enabling night time operations.
One of the most valuable tools in a law enforcement drone is a thermal camera. Thermal imaging technology captures heat signatures, which can be used to track down criminals in hiding or even find lost children or pets. Thermal imaging is an excellent tool to use during night. time operations, when a visible camera would be unable to provide any images. Unlike traditional night vision technology that uses light amplification, thermal imaging technology allows police officers to see through smoke, fog, and other obscurants.
As you can imagine, having a thermal camera on a police drone can be an invaluable tool in a number of different situations. This is why most of the drones featured on this list have the ability to use thermal imaging technology. What makes the M300 the best drone with thermal abilities on our list, is the variety and quality of thermal options available. The DJI H20T features all of the capabilities of the H20, but with an added fourth sensor being a high quality radiometric thermal sensor.
The FLIR Vue TZ20 is another thermal payload suitable for law enforcement use, with a very unique capability. The TZ20 stands for "Thermal Zoom, 20" which indicates its ability to provide up to a 20x thermal zoom capability with the use of two separate thermal sensors, each featuring a lens of different focal length. This allows for an extreme amount of clarity in the thermal image, even at the longest end of the zoom range. Pairing the TZ20 with the H20 is a powerful and cost effective payload combination, giving the M300 the absolute best of both thermal and visible imaging capabilities.
This strong payload combination is featured in DSLRPros' purpose built M300 Ultimate Police Drone Package.
Currently, the M300 RTK is a top-of-the-line flagship model when it comes to sheer power and flexibility. While it's not the lightest or most portable drone, it still manages to outperform its competitors. If portability and weight are among your primary concerns, you might want to consider the other models in this list.
For law enforcement agencies who do wish to take advantage of the power and flexibility of the M300 for their law enforcement operations, our team at DSLRPros has you covered. The Matrice 300 Ultimate Police Drone package includes the drone and all the accessories your team needs to conduct law enforcement operations. In addition, for a limited time only, your team will also receive one free day of training at your location for each purchase of the M300 RTK - ensuring your team makes the most of this drone from day one.
3. DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced
With drones being increasingly used for public safety, the DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced checks all the boxes needed for an effective public safety drone. It’s got an impressive array of a thermal sensor, a 48 MP visual camera and a 10 km HD transmission range.
How Can The DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced Help Law Enforcement?
Whether it's for search and rescue or a hunt for a suspect on the run, this drone can be deployed in minutes. Its powerful dual visual camera system with its 32x zoom feature can be put to good use for crowd monitoring, surveillance and crime scene analysis.
This drone empowers law enforcement to handle different law enforcement scenarios more effectively. Using the DJI M2EA, the police can gather insights as complex situations unfold by monitoring them from a bird's-eye view.
As far as its utility to public safety is concerned, the Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced stands among the most versatile drones on the market. With so many features for tactical operations, it's among the best drones available for law enforcement agencies. The Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced Urban Scout Package is a great choice for law enforcement organizations looking for a turn-key package with all the accessories needed for effective public safety operations.
4. Autel Evo II Dual R
The compact, folding Autel Evo II Dual R features 38 minutes of flight time, 8K video capture, omnidirectional obstacle avoidance, as well as radiometric thermal imaging capability.
How Can The Autel Evo II Dual R Help Law Enforcement?
The Autel Evo II Dual R’s takeoff weight of only 2.62 pounds make it a great choice for law enforcement teams that require a compact, yet powerful drone for their public safety operations.
The ability to capture optical imagery at 8K resolution with a lossless in-camera zoom of up to 4x means law enforcement can capture finer details and monitor situations even at a distance.
In addition, this drone’s FLIR Boson 640x512 radiometric thermal camera allows police and first responders to benefit from the highest thermal resolution available in a compact and highly portable drone package. Radiometric thermal capability allows operators to record temperature values at the pixel level for later analysis of captured footage - an important asset for recon and mission planning.
Perhaps one of the best features that set this drone apart from the competition is its lack of geo-fencing. No geo-fencing means that this drone can quickly get in the air without additional hoops or mandatory firmware updates. This functionality is critical in ensuring rapid deployment in operations where lives are on the line and each second counts.
5. DJI Matrice 200 V2
The DJI Matrice 200 V2 is a high endurance workhorse. With a flight time of 38 minutes, a dual battery system and an 8 km transmission range, it's still one of the highest performing drones on the market today.
How Can The DJI Matrice 200 V2 Help Law Enforcement?
Among the most compelling features for law enforcement is this drone's Discreet Mode. This mode disables the LED navigation lights for stealthier operations, making this drone an asset for recon. Data transmission is secured with AES 256 encryption. That means intercepting data from this drone will be tough, if not impossible.
This drone also comes equipped with obstacle avoidance and anti-collision systems. This aircraft can equip thermal imaging cameras (like the FLIR VUE TZ20-R) with zoom features that allow operators to quickly identify potential targets from above. In addition, the Matrice 200 V2 is capable of payload drops of up to 1.2 kg. In a life-saving mission, the Matrice 200 V2 can be equipped to drop food and medical supplies to people stranded in dangerous situations.
There's no question that drones are becoming more and more of an important tool for law enforcement agencies. By providing a quick, safe, and efficient way to conduct operations, drones are revolutionizing the way police work. All over the country and world, law enforcement are utilizing these incredible tools to aid in their efforts to keep the community safe. From search and rescue operations to suspect tracking, crime scene mapping and even hostage negotiation, drones are allowing the brave officers in law enforcement to respond more quickly and effectively, while increasing situational awareness and officer safety. We're excited to see the technology rising to meet the occasion.
Can law enforcement agencies use drones?
In general, yes, as long as they follow the rules set forth by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), or whichever regulatory agency has jurisdiction over their area.
Why do the police use drones?
Drones have become essential tools for law enforcement agencies around the world. They're able to provide real-time information rapidly. Depending on the model and payload configuration, drones can also locate suspects, breach doors, deliver tactical supplies, illuminate an area at night, and more. These capabilities make drones an effective force-multiplier during law enforcement operations and help officers make critical decisions rapidly.
How can drones be used for public safety?
Public safety drones are becoming increasingly popular because they offer a number of benefits. For instance, they can be used for aerial photography and videography in public safety operations like search and rescue missions, crowd monitoring and suspect tracking.
Do police forces need special permissions to fly drones?
No. Law enforcement agencies don't need special permission to operate drones. However, they must abide by FAA regulations.
What drones does law enforcement use?
Law enforcement agencies across the globe use different types of drones based on their needs. We have discussed some of the best ones in this blog.
What is the flight time of a police drone?
A police drone's flight time depends on the capacity of the battery installed. Most drones come with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack. The maximum flight time per charge varies depending on the model. Most enterprise-grade drones used in police work can stay in the air for more than 30 minutes. The DJI M300 can stay in the air for up to 55 minutes. In addition, the M300 and M200 feature hot-swappable batteries. The ability to change batteries without turning the drone off is critical in situations where continuous operations are a must.
What Kind of Payloads are Used for Incident Response Drones?
Some of the types of payloads used are as follows:
1) Thermal Imaging Cameras - These cameras are used to detect heat signatures. This ability is crucial in low-light environments as they help locate people who may be using the cover of darkness or hiding under vegetation. These payloads are immensely helpful not only for finding suspects but for search and rescue as well.
2) Optical/Visual Cameras - These cameras allow you to record videos of a particular area, as well as see the environment in real-time. Drone optical cameras typically have powerful zoom functionality that allows law enforcement to monitor the situation from a distance.
3) LiDAR - This type of payload can build a map of the environment by measuring distances between objects by using high-speed laser pulses. LiDAR can be used to build a map of the area, which is helpful for planning operations.
4) Spotlight - Payloads such as the Wingsland Z15 allow law enforcement to illuminate large areas - a crucial asset for nighttime operations.
5) Loudspeakers - One-way or two-way communication through loudspeakers allows law enforcement to coordinate operations and communicate with suspects.