Houston sees drones as the future of law enforcement, Click2Houston.com reports.
A drone pilot and enthusiast, officer Larry Boggus of the Memorial Villages Police Department tells the outlet how he realized the potential for the unmanned aerial vehicles in his line of work during the historic Hurricane Harvey.
“We could tell where the water was. People were stuck and needed help on the roofs. We could also see where traffic was,” Boggus said to Click2Houston.com.
He quickly adopted the drone as a valuable everyday tool. “We started getting cases where we'd have someone fleeing from a vehicle, like at a traffic stop. You can immediately get a drone up in 30-45 seconds and fly and start looking for them, while you're setting up the perimeter,” he said.
"If it's a domestic and somebody ran away. If it's a lost child. If it's anything that we have eyes on that we can put our drone up, or locate or clear the scene or provide what we call over watch for other responders coming in.”
Drones have been put to work for a wide range of use cases, including missing persons cases.
"If it's a domestic and somebody ran away. If it's a lost child. If it's anything that we have eyes on that we can put our drone up, or locate or clear the scene or provide what we call over watch for other responders coming in,” Boggus said.
Ray Schultz, the chief of police for Memorial Villages PD, explained that drones are a cost-saver compared to helicopters.
“A helicopter, somewhere between $2.5 and $5 million, depending on how you want to have it equipped. You can buy a drone for about $15,000. We can now have the resource available to us immediately because we own it. We can immediately deploy it to help serve our residents,” Schultz said to the outlet.
Residents are championing the use of drones, funding not only drones for the department but also an SUV that boasts a 43-inch screen for officers to observe drone footage in real-time.
“So what we were missing before, driving around in a patrol car, because everyone knows what a cop car looks like. Stickers and light bars on it, and squeaky brakes. The drones up there, you have no clue. And it's been a crime-fighting tool in that aspect of catching these guys and protecting property all at the same time,” Boggus said to the outlet.