Implementing a drone program can bring benefits to your department

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Sponsored by TruckVault

By Courtney Levin, Police Staff1 BrandFocus

The ability to facilitate the work of a police officer through technology is becoming more and more common. While the benefits of investments in technology such as body-worn cameras have been clearly demonstrated, the expense of implementing a drone program can raise more questions than answers.

Despite the initial cost, departments across the country are finding drone programs to greatly benefit their investigative efforts.

Despite the initial cost, departments across the country are finding drone programs to greatly benefit their investigative efforts. (TruckVault)

Despite the initial cost, departments across the country are finding drone programs to greatly benefit their investigative efforts. Small municipalities operating on tight budgets can increase the efficiency of their search and rescue efforts with a single drone, while large agencies can take advantage of a full range of equipment for use in a variety of scenarios.

If you are wondering if a drone program can really benefit your agency, there are several factors to consider that will help inform your purchase and ensure you get the most out of your equipment.

DEALING WITH HIGH-RISK SITUATIONS

Agent safety should be at the forefront whenever a new kind of technology is introduced, as these purchases are designed to help, not to become a hindrance. Not only can drones help a department save time when searching, but a primary reason for using such equipment is to keep agents out of harm’s way.

“In an unfamiliar, high-stress tactical environment, we can send a robot and let it do the heavy lifting for us,” said James Bushey, Linn, Wisconsin Police Chief and UAS training instructor at Adorama Business Solutions. “Then we can send the right team members to do the job more efficiently and safely. “

Drones can often mitigate the human risk factor, as these machines can get into a dangerous situation and provide decision makers with real-time insight into what’s going on. Instead of having to smash down a door without knowing what kind of threat is behind, for example, a drone can pierce a window and scout the building, reducing the risk for everyone involved.

MANAGING DIFFICULT ENVIRONMENTS

Rather than sending multiple agents into the field to track an attacker or someone in need of rescue, a drone operator can cover a large area in a short period of time. While efficiency is certainly the key, the use of drones can also allow individuals to overcome limitations such as darkness and equip them to conduct research in harsh or dangerous environments and weather conditions.

Thermal and night vision cameras are popular choices when evaluating drone units because these devices can perform nighttime searches faster without endangering anyone. Once a suspect or lost person has been detected, arresting officers or rescue teams can point in exactly the right direction.

Drones can help services save time even if there is no dangerous terrain involved. Sometimes the simple geographic configuration of a jurisdiction can present challenges. In Linn, Wisconsin, a 26-square-mile lake nearly cuts the county’s territory in half. Being able to leverage technology to get to the other side of the lake faster is helping speed up his department’s efforts, Bushey says.

FACTORS FOR IMPLEMENTING THE DRONE PROGRAM

Buying a drone for your department can open up a plethora of opportunities, but it’s important to consider what your specific needs are before you buy. While your budget will likely dictate the characteristics of your drone program, there are a variety of options available even within the smallest spending limits.

Some departments that plan to use a primary drone may want to purchase an additional lower cost model as a practice unit. It’s unlikely that every member of your team will be a skilled drone operator at first, so using a cheaper unit can make sense during the initial learning curve.

Drones allow individuals to overcome limitations such as darkness and equip them to perform searches in harsh or dangerous environments and weather conditions.

Drones allow individuals to overcome limitations such as darkness and equip them to perform searches in harsh or dangerous environments and weather conditions. (TruckVault)

Beyond purchasing drone equipment, another key factor to recognize is the need to store and transport your equipment. Will you share your drone gear with the firefighters? Does your department need electrical and video monitors on site? How will you ensure adequate protection for your equipment while being able to deploy it quickly?

Each agency will need to determine what their daily drone operations look like and purchase storage solutions accordingly. A popular choice is a pre-configured option from TruckVault, available from Adorama. Departments wishing to customize their options, such as Linn PD, can also work directly with TruckVault.

“We didn’t have to build these kits ourselves in our garage,” Bushey said. “We could have one that was professionally built by TruckVault that is well thought out and has everything we need in one stop shop and for less than what we were building piece by piece.”

SEVERAL STORAGE CHOICES

TruckVault’s Drone Responder line takes into account the diverse needs of an agency’s mobile drone program and makes it easy to streamline your storage options. From designs with just a few lockable drawers to fully customized solutions that house a monitor and power source, the Drone Responder range enables rapid deployment of your drone.

Agencies with tight budgets may be reluctant to invest in drone storage solutions after paying for their new equipment, but the initial expense can quickly pay off. For example, in King County, Washington, a search helicopter costs about $ 2,000 an hour.

TruckVault’s premium Drone Responder solution costs approximately four times that cost. Instead of spending thousands of dollars every time you need to do an aerial search, services can make a one-time investment that lasts.

Many departments across the country have found value in implementing a drone program, but it’s important to remember that equipment is only part of your investment. Your agency can take full advantage of the benefits of drone units when they are safely stored and secured using TruckVault’s Drone Responder storage solutions.

Visit TruckVault for more information.

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