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Bellingham Police Drone: Autel EVO II Enterprise

Autel EVO II Enterprise Drone Serves Bellingham Police Department

Autel corporate drones are increasingly connected with police departments everywhere, and drones are becoming more and more popular in police departments. This time, the Bellingham Police Department sent the Autel EVO II Enterprise drone.

The State of Police Drones

The relationship between the public and the police department is a major topic in the United States, and the use of police drones for law enforcement by police departments is often discussed by the public. Who wants a drone flying over their roof? Who wants to be watched by police drones?

Bellingham, a rainy city in the northwest corner of Washington state, is facing and overcoming just that. The Bellingham Police Department, which has about 100 officers and serves about 90,000 citizens, received a lot of public attention when it launched its drone program.

Police departments across the country use drones for crash scene reconstruction, surveillance, search and rescue, and more. When the BPD starts its program, it has limited scope of application.

"It's very strict," said Sergeant Jeffery Yoder. “We had to overcome some issues with how the City Council and the Mayor’s Office felt about how we were going to implement the use of drones in our department.”

The scope of application of police drones

Missing persons cases, K-9 surveillance and finding fugitives are some of the only tasks Bellingham police can use drones for. Despite the limitations of the police drone program, the company has proven its worth.

Police drones deployed ahead of time to spot suspects

Contrary to the "scary" perception of police drones, the BPD's drones proved to be very useful in de-escalating the situation, especially during the K-9 search. Drones are often deployed to help dogs and their handlers find suspects and observe unseen risks.

Yoder explained that drones could be used to spot suspects to track their movements before or with K-9 teams. Other officers can stop fleeing suspects and arrest them without force.

"That makes it much less likely that a dog will bite a person because we're able to command the asset ... and if the person doesn't want to give up, we're able to set a boundary and use less lethal means instead of letting the dog bite ,” said Joad.

This is valuable both in avoiding the use of force and in avoiding responsibility.

Police drones provide effective aerial view

The Bellingham Police Department's Autel Enterprise drone is proving itself step by step.

Images and 3D models generated by the Autel EVO II Enterprise drone are popular as evidence in court cases. The Bellingham Police Department also used Pix4D's mapping capabilities to investigate a fire that destroyed several buildings on Bellingham's high-traffic streets.

The big twist for police drones is drone operations. The people at the homeless encampment outside City Hall started causing trouble for the public. This required police to escort City Hall staff to ensure their safety, and eventually the department decided to clear the camp. The mayor and city council will be able to watch the drone footage of the action in real time.

This time around, city hall workers see the potential that police drones offer and the benefits it offers. Thereafter, drone operators have greater discretion over when to deploy their aircraft.

Police drone operations increase law enforcement accountability and transparency

The hardware add-ons to BPD’s EVO II Enterprise drone offer more than just tactical advantages—they also increase police transparency, which contributes to their public perception and legal accountability.

In the case of a suspect trapped in a hotel room, the BPD uses the EVO II Enterprise's speakers to communicate with the suspect without endangering the officer. As a secondary benefit, those nearby can clearly hear commands broadcast through the drone.

"Everyone could hear the police communications," Yoder said. "So, when you're talking about mitigating the lawsuit, if you hear, 'Hey, you're under arrest, put your hands up, don't carry any weapons' ... it gets broadcast and a lot of other people can listen No, when you have witnesses over loudspeakers, it's confusing to say, 'Well, they never told me that.'"

The EVO II Enterprise's spotlight is used when recording drone operations and is useful for navigating during low-light flights. Flashes are used for most other missions—Bellingham is cloudy for most of the year, so improved visibility is a valuable tool.

The Future of Police Drones - A Tool for the Times

BPD currently has six certified operators and ten drones. They plan to distribute them in different patrol areas across the city to facilitate rapid deployment. Yoder also said they would like to get a vehicle dedicated to showing and streaming footage, but that depends on budget.

The program has proven its worth by keeping officials, citizens, and even suspects safe while providing evidence and transparency for courts, policymakers, and the public.

"In this day and age," Yoder said. "There are things we can do to reduce accountability and reduce instances of use of force are good."

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