Police drones can be used to improve the efficiency of police departments in patrolling, monitoring, and search and rescue operations, and to enhance safety when performing high-risk tasks. The Murrieta Police Department has a new aerial view with the help of a new high-tech drone, and its drone system program has helped officers successfully apprehend a fugitive suspect.
The Murrieta Police Department’s drone system uses Autel EVO MAX 4T drones, which provide officers with a much-needed aerial view and can get to the scene faster than helicopters.
Commanders believe the ability a drone provides to get a bird's eye view of something can help improve tactical awareness and situational awareness.
Police drone law enforcement use cases
Just this month, the drone program was launched when construction equipment dealer Quinn Company Caterpillar, located in the 41000 block of Raintree Court, was robbed and the suspects fled.
Little did the suspects know, they were being followed by a drone that used thermal technology to track their every move.
"The subject ran through an area where a police officer on foot could not track them," Durant explained.
Rather than letting police attempt a pursuit on foot, the drone operator directed officers to the suspect's getaway vehicle parked on a nearby street.
"The drone operator clearly saw them get into the car, drive away, and tell the officer on foot, 'Hey, he's driving off in this direction,'" Durant said. "They were quick. I caught up with them in my car.”
The suspect was traveling at high speed, with the drone following closely behind. Police eventually stopped the vehicle and arrested the three suspects inside.
They were identified as 67-year-old Jeffrey Hiller, 67-year-old Ronald Harrison and 59-year-old Chris Rood.
Authorities said the results may have been different if police had not been equipped with drones.
Durant said police had achieved success in a range of cases in the six months since the program was implemented, including the rapid arrest of suspects who evaded police and the use of drones to observe drug transactions.
Three suspects arrested with the help of drones were arrested on charges including tampering with a vehicle, conspiracy to commit a crime, possession of drug paraphernalia and resisting or delaying a peace officer.
The force said it hopes to introduce a dedicated role in the future to listen to scanners and immediately deploy drones to the scene.
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