New Hampshire Town Deploys New Police Drone Squad
One of seven grant-funded Portsmouth Police Department drones, now available regionally for public safety, can take infrared photos from 200 feet in the air showing the locations of people inside a building below.
The job of law enforcement and first responders in Portsmouth, N.H., will be slightly easier with the addition of seven grant-funded drones.
The unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) can take infrared photos from as high as 200 feet and can be programmed to key in on certain body temperatures, which aids in search-and-rescue missions.
The Portsmouth Police Department purchased the drones with a $69,638 grant from the Department of Homeland Security, which also stipulates that the equipment be made available to other jurisdictions upon request.
A seven-officer drone team will oversee the UAVs when they’re deployed. Five of the seven drones are used primarily for training but can be deployed at crime scenes or during tactical calls to transmit a live feed, Lt. Chris Cummings told the Portsmouth Herald. These smaller UAVs fold up and can be worn on an officer’s belt, he continued and can be sent into a building to give first responders a safe first look at a developing situation or fire.
The largest UAV, a DJI Matrice 210 or “quadcopter,” is capable of finding hot spots in burning buildings and a midsize drone is outfitted with a spotlight and speaker that can be used to persuade armed suspects to surrender or to guide lost individuals.
"It's an amazing tool to have that will save time and money and increase the safety of the public, firefighters and police officers," Cummings told the Herald. "The purpose of them is to save lives and protect people."
New Hampshire law and language in the grant prohibits police from video recording residents for non-police purposes. The images, videos and other data are kept on a computer hard drive that is not connected to the overall department network, he said.