Drones are becoming an increasingly important tool for police force and law enforcement agencies around the world. In the UK alone, at least 40 police forces are now using drones, with only 2 regional police forces not owning or operating drones. According to recent Freedom of Information responses by Drone Wars, there are currently at least 288 drones operated by UK police forces around the country, and in the first six months of 2020, there were over 5,500 overt uses of drones by the police force alone.
With their ability to fly over difficult terrain, access hard-to-reach areas, in dangerous situations and capture high-quality video aerial data and imagery, drones can provide valuable support to law enforcement operations.
However, with so many different drone models and brands available on the market, it can be difficult for law enforcement officers and agencies to choose the right drone for their specific needs.
Drones are becoming an increasingly essential tool for law enforcement agencies, offering enhanced situational awareness, data capture abilities, and durability. With robust data encryption and storage protocols, advanced ai capabilities of police drones ensure the protection of both the agency and the public.
From search and rescue missions to crime scene investigations and surveillance operations, police drones have proven to be highly effective in improving the safety and efficiency of police operations.
The best drones for police operations:
- DJI M30T
- DJI M300
- Sky Hero Loki 2
- Parrot Anafi USA
- Skydio 2+
Each of these drones has unique features and capabilities that make them valuable assets for many law enforcement organizations. Agencies should consider their specific needs and budget when selecting a drone for their operations.
Check out below for in an indepth review of the best drones for law enforcement applications, taking into account factors such as flight time, range, camera quality, and data security.
Whether you’re a law enforcement professional looking to start a new drone program, or a drone enthusiast interested in the latest advances in drone technology, this post will provide you with valuable insights into the best drones for law enforcement.
Benefits of Drone Use In Police Forces
The use of drones in law enforcement offers numerous benefits for police departments and the communities they serve.
Drones offer unique capabilities that are not available with traditional manned aircraft, such as affordability, maneuverability, and the ability to travel over 100 miles per hour.
Drones can also be used for a variety of purposes, including surveying damage or searching for survivors following natural disasters, observing and reconstructing crime scenes and vehicle collisions, and monitoring traffic at large events.
One of the main advantages of drones is their ability to provide a “birds-eye” view of large areas, which can inform personnel deployment regarding pedestrian congestion in large events.
The use of drones in law enforcement operations has been particularly reported during the COVID-19 pandemic, as drones have been used to disperse crowds, communicate public health messages, and monitor people’s movements to enforce lockdown and quarantine orders.
The increased use of unmanned drones by police to monitor protests, including non-violent movements like Black Lives Matter, has raised concerns about transparency and regulation, with campaigners arguing that there has been little debate about the rules surrounding fly drones and their use.
Although there has been controversy surrounding the use of drones for COVID-19 law enforcement operations, it has been deemed legitimate in some cases by administrative courts.
The use of drones by police forces offers numerous benefits, including better resource and staffing deployment, enhanced emergency response capabilities, and improved public safety. As drone technology further continues to advance, it is likely that drones will play an even more significant role in law enforcement operations.
Key Features and Specifications for Law Enforcement Drones
Drones have become an essential tool for law enforcement agencies due to their unique capabilities. When selecting a police drone for a law enforcement agency, it is essential to consider specific features and specifications to ensure that it meets the law enforcement agency’s needs and requirements.
Features and Specifications
Flight Time and Range – Flight time and range are crucial features to consider when selecting a drone for law enforcement. Longer flight time and range allow drones to cover larger areas and complete more missions without needing to return for battery changes or recharge.
Camera Quality – The camera quality is another important feature to consider. Law enforcement drones need high-resolution cameras that can capture clear images and videos for surveillance, search and rescue operations, and crime scene investigation.
Payload Capacity – Payload capacity of police drone is the maximum weight that a drone can carry. Law enforcement drones require payload capacity for carrying additional equipment such as thermal imaging cameras, searchlights, and loudspeakers.
Durability – Law enforcement drones must be durable to withstand harsh weather conditions, potential collisions, and rough landings. Durability features such as water and dust resistance and shock resistance can ensure a law enforcement drone that’s longevity and reliability.
Control Systems – Control systems, including remote control and autopilot, are essential features for law enforcement drones. The remote control allows for precise control of the drone’s movements, while autopilot enables the police drone to fly pre-programmed routes and complete autonomous missions.
Data Security – Drones gather large amounts of data through electronic and optical sensors very quickly, including personal information and images. It is crucial to ensure that the drone and its associated systems have robust data encryption and storage protocols to prevent unauthorized access and potential breaches. Selecting a drone with secure data storage and handling capabilities is essential for protecting both the agency and the public.
Selecting a Police Drone that Meets Law Enforcement Needs
Selecting a used drone for law enforcement that meets specific law enforcement needs and requirements is crucial. Law enforcement agencies require drones that are reliable, easy to use, and efficient in achieving their missions. Choosing a law enforcement drone that does not meet these requirements can lead to wasted resources, potential safety risks, and inefficient operations.
By selecting a police drone that meets specific law enforcement needs and requirements, agencies can further coordinate operations across multiple drones to ensure efficient, safe, and successful operations.
Comparison of Police Drone Models and Brands for Law Enforcement
As the demand for drones in law enforcement continues to grow, there are now many different models and brands available on the market. In this blog post, we will compare some of the top drone models and brands for law enforcement applications, highlighting their features, capabilities, and suitability for different law enforcement needs.
By understanding the differences between these models and brands, law enforcement officers and agencies can make informed decisions about which commercial drones are to use for their operations.
1. DJI M30T
Max Flight Time: 41 minutes
Max Flight Speed: 23 m/s
Max Flight Distance: 15 km (unobstructed, free of interference)
Max Hover Time: 36 min
Camera Options: Wide camera, Zoom camera, Thermal camera, FPV camera, Laser module
Best For Police Operations: Search and rescue missions, crime scene investigations, and surveillance operations.
Country of Origin: China
The DJI M30T police drone is a powerful tool for law enforcement agencies looking to enhance their situational awareness and data capture abilities. With its thermal imaging camera, optical zoom, 48MP CMOS sensor, laser rangefinder, and wide camera, this drone provides clear images and videos for surveillance, search and rescue operations, and crime scene investigations.
But what sets this police drone really apart is its durability and adaptability. It is built to withstand harsh weather conditions, collisions, and rough landings, making it an ideal tool for police operations in challenging environments.
Its dual vision and ToF sensors make it highly dependable and capable of avoiding collisions, ensuring the safety of both police officers, and the public.
The DJI M30T police drone is also incredibly portable and easy to deploy, with four foldable wings and no landing gear. This means that police officers can quickly deploy the drone in emergency situations where time is of the essence.
Additionally, its 41-minute flight time allows for extended operations without needing to return for battery changes or recharge.
One of the most important aspects for law enforcement agencies is data security, and the DJI M30T drone does not disappoint in this regard. With robust data encryption and storage protocols, this drone ensures the protection of both the law enforcement agency and the public.
Overall, the DJI M30T drone is an excellent tool for law enforcement agencies, providing them with enhanced situational awareness, data capture abilities, and durability. Its portability, reliability, and adaptability make it an ideal tool for police operations, including surveillance, search and rescue, and crime scene investigations.
With robust data encryption and storage protocols, law enforcement agencies can be confident in the security and protection of the data collected by this same drone technology.
2. DJI M300
Max Flight Time: 55 min
Max Flight Speed: 82.8 km/h
Max Flight Distance: 8 km / 4.9 miles
Max Hover Time: 45 minutes
Camera Options: Zenmuse H20 and H20T cameras, among others
Best For Police Operations: Search and rescue, high-speed pursuits, surveillance
Country of Origin: China
The DJI Matrice 300 RTK police drone is a versatile and powerful tool designed for industrial and commercial applications. However, this drone is also an exceptional asset for law enforcement organizations and public safety agencies everywhere. With its large payload capacity and advanced dual-operation capabilities, it’s no wonder the DJI M300 is a popular choice for police and public safety teams.
One of the standout features of the DJI M300 is its integration with laser rangefinders. The drone is already connected to GPS, so when used in combination with a rangefinder, the M300 can provide accurate distance measurements and GPS coordinates of objects from above.
This information is embedded into the metadata of any photos captured by the drone, improving situational awareness during public safety operations and enhancing collaboration between aerial and ground inspection and emergency response teams.
The DJI M300 can also be fitted with up to three payloads simultaneously, including the new Zenmuse H20 and H20T cameras. These cameras offer exceptional optics, with features like radio thermic and thermal imaging technology, 20MP zoom cameras, and 1200m laser rangefinders.
The DJI Zenmuse H20N is another great option, integrating starlight sensors into its zoom and wide-angle cameras, which combined with “optical” thermal zoom, offers unrivaled night vision capabilities.
With a maximum flight time of up to 55 minutes and a cruising speed of 82.8km/h, the DJI M300 can quickly navigate vast terrain during time-sensitive operations, such as search and rescue and emergency and disaster response too.
Its advanced dual-operation capabilities also make police drone inspection easier, allowing pilots to focus on their mission rather than controlling the drone.
In summary, the DJI Matrice 300 RTK police drone is a powerful and reliable tool for law enforcement agencies. Its integration with laser rangefinders and advanced camera capabilities make it the most versatile drones yet for law enforcement, and it a versatile asset for enhancing situational awareness and collaboration between aerial and ground teams.
The DJI M300’s large payload capacity and long flight time make it an ideal tool for time-sensitive operations, making it a top choice for police and other public safety operations teams.
3. Sky Hero Loki 2
Max Flight Time: 15 minutes
Max Flight Speed: 10 meters/second (20 knots)
Max Flight Distance: 1.6 km (line of sight), 150 m (no line of sight)
Max Hover Time: 11 minutes
Camera Options: Forward-facing ultra low light, day/night camera with 150° wide-angle field of view
Best For Police Operations: Close quarter, under roof, tactical scouting missions in congested and dark environments.
Country of Origin: Belgium
Manufacturer: Sky Hero
The Sky Hero Loki 2 is the ultimate tactical police drone for indoor reconnaissance missions. Designed specifically for use in GPS-denied areas and dark, obstacle-rich environments, the Loki MkII can be deployed rapidly and placed virtually anywhere to collect critical intelligence and maximize team safety.
With its impact-resistant polycarbonate body and advanced computer vision algorithms, the Loki MkII is a highly reliable and precise drone. It features optimized autonomous flight modes for indoor operations, such as Floor and Turtle mode, and offers a GPS-like position hold capability without GPS, even in total darkness.
One of the key advantages of the Loki MkII is its self-generated independent communication networks, which offer complete cybersecurity. It also boasts an analog audio/video signal that is scrambled via FPGA to prevent lag or screen freezes.
The Loki MkII is intuitive and easy to operate, with automatic altitude hold and speed control functions that simplify piloting aerial photography.
The police drone features dimmable and selectable IR LEDs on its front and bottom, providing flight stability, video clarity, and NVGs lighting without typical snowflake effects.
The Loki MkII also provides complete telemetry data, performance indicators for sensors, and estimated remaining flight time on a pocket-fit multi-sUV Ground Controller display. This drone is field-proven, having been deployed by over 1000 tactical teams worldwide on multiple fields of operations.
In summary, the Sky Hero Loki 2 is an exceptional police drone for law enforcement and tactical operations. Its rugged design, precise capabilities, and advanced features make it a valuable tool for short-range reconnaissance and situational awareness in challenging environments.
4. Parrot Anafi USA
Max Flight Time: 32 minutes
Max Flight Speed: 15 m/s
Max Flight Distance: 5 km (3.1 mi)
Max Hover Time: 27 minutes
Camera Options: Dual thermal and visual imagery, 32x stabilized digital zoom, IR/EO 3-camera gimbal
Best For Police Operations: Search and rescue missions, crime scene investigations, and surveillance operations.
Country of Origin: USA
The Parrot ANAFI USA is a military-grade police drone that was built to meet the demands of first responders, firefighters, search-and-rescue teams, and police forces. This ultra-portable and rugged drone is designed for challenging operations, such as flying in dark and dusty environments, and it can handle winds up to 14.7 m/s. It also has image stabilization for use in windy conditions and is the quietest police drone in its class.
One of the key features of the Parrot ANAFI USA is its dual thermal and visual imagery, which is incredibly useful for police operations.
It comes with a FLIR Boson 320 longwave infrared (LWIR) thermal camera and a CMOS 1/2.4″ sensor and EO wide 4K HDR camera, allowing you to access extremely clear images. The data between thermal and RGB images can be blended for a sharper understanding of the situation.
The Parrot ANAFI USA is also very versatile, offering 32 minutes of flight time and is compatible for USB charging and ultra-fast charging to get going again quickly. It has a maximum transmission range of 4 km / 2.5 mi, and its gimbal tilt range goes from -140° (beyond nadir) to +110° (over zenith). It can fly up to 10 km/h and has a 3-axis stabilization system.
For police operations, the Parrot ANAFI USA is an excellent choice, especially for those who need to collect critical intelligence quickly and reliably. The police drone is tough and reliable and has complete data protection in case of loss or theft, with data stored securely on European servers and only shared with Parrot if you give consent. It is compatible with the full Pix4D software suite, including Pix4Dmapper and Pix4Dreact, which makes it even more versatile for different types of operations.
Overall, the Parrot ANAFI USA is a great investment for any police department with operations that require quick, reliable, and accurate intelligence. With its dual thermal and visual imagery, 32-minute flight time, and compatibility with the full Pix4D software suite, it is a drone that can provide great value to police departments.
5. Skydio 2+
Max Flight Time: 27 minutes
Max Flight Speed: 36 mph
Max Flight Distance: Not specified
Max Hover Time: Not specified
Camera Options: Dual capture with color and thermal cameras (Skydio X2)
Best For Police Operations: Rapid field deployment, search and rescue, tactical deployment, crime and crash scene documentation
Country of Origin: United States
When it comes to law enforcement, having the right tools can mean the difference between success and failure. That’s where the Skydio 2+ police drone comes in. This innovative piece of technology is the perfect tool for rapid field deployment, allowing first responders to gain immediate situational awareness upon arriving on the scene.
Thanks to its durable, portable design and hand launch and recovery capabilities, Skydio drones are ideal for search and rescue operations in rugged environments. They can even support SRT teams with obstacle-rich environments, through omnidirectional obstacle avoidance, enabling them to see in places invisible from above.
For crime and crash scene documentation, Skydio 3D Scan reduces time to capture and increases the accuracy of crime scene analysis and reconstruction. This is a huge improvement over traditional methods of situational awareness, which can only provide limited information about the scene.
While manual drones have demonstrated immense value for law enforcement, Skydio drones offer built-in safety procedures and require less training, making it easier to recruit and train operators for your UAS team.
What sets Skydio drones apart from other options on the market is their advanced autonomy features. They are safer to operate, thanks to 360-degree collision avoidance and computer vision navigation that allows for seamless maneuvering in GPS-denied environments. Plus, with adaptive capture using Skydio 3D Scan and dual capture capabilities with Skydio X2, crime and traffic scene teams can capture high-quality data with both color and thermal cameras.
Overall, the Skydio 2+ police drone is a must-have tool for law enforcement agencies. Its advanced autonomy features, ease of use, and ability to capture high-quality data make it a game-changer for the rapid deployment of incident response drones, search and rescue, tactical deployment, and crime and crash scene documentation.
Police Drone Use in Law Enforcement
In this section, we will provide an overview of real-world examples of how drones are currently being used in law enforcement, as well as a discussion of the potential benefits and challenges associated with each application.
Search and Rescue Operations
Drones are becoming an increasingly important tool for law enforcement, particularly in search and rescue operations in dangerous situations. Equipped with cameras and thermal imaging sensors, drones can cover large areas of difficult terrain in a shorter time, reducing the time it takes to locate individuals in need of assistance officers avoid dangerous situations.
For example, North Wales Police’s drone unit has become a vital tool in their efforts to find missing people, track moving objects, monitor crime scenes, and even help control large gorse fires. The unit has been deployed over 350 times in the first three months after going operational in April, demonstrating their usefulness in a wide range of scenarios.
Drones equipped with high-resolution cameras and thermal sensors can detect heat signatures of individuals, even in low-light or difficult weather conditions. This makes them particularly useful to locate suspects in challenging environments where traditional search methods may be limited.
Crime Scene Investigation
Drones equipped with cameras and mapping software are proving to be a valuable tool for law enforcement agencies in surveying, gathering evidence, and mapping crime scenes. By capturing high-resolution images and videos of crime scenes from various angles and heights, drones provide detailed aerial imagery that helps investigators identify potential evidence, reconstruct the crime scene, and analyze patterns of activity. The use of drones for crime scene investigation can provide police work with a safer and more efficient way of gathering evidence and surveying crime scenes, reducing the risk of contamination or damage to evidence.
According to a report from the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), the agency currently only uses drones for capturing images of serious crime scenes such as murder or rape scenes.
However, the MPS is exploring potential future uses of drones, including: public safety drones assisting in searching for missing persons and vulnerable people, public order incidents, traffic collision investigations, and conduct operations and even authorized firearms operations conducted by the SCO19 Firearms Command.
Law enforcement agencies are also utilizing drones to aid in traffic management. Equipped with cameras, drones are capable of monitoring traffic flow and identifying accidents or obstructions. Real-time information can then be relayed to drivers, assisting them in navigating around traffic incidents.
Drones can provide a cost-effective and efficient alternative to the traditional method of having officers physically present at the scene to monitor traffic.
Crowd Control and Surveillance
Law enforcement agencies are increasingly relying on drones for crowd monitoring and surveillance purposes, and this technology has proved controversial in some instances.
For example, Derbyshire Police recently used drone footage to monitor people walking in the Peak District during lockdown, a move that was criticized by civil liberties groups and some members of the public.
However, in other situations, police drones equipped with cameras and speakers have been used effectively to monitor large crowds, identify potential threats, and communicate with crowds. This technology provides a bird’s-eye view of large crowds, allowing law enforcement agencies crowd control activity and identify potential safety risks.
In addition, police drones equipped with speakers can be used to communicate with crowds and provide instructions or warnings.
Best Drones For Police Summary
In conclusion, choosing the best drone for police operations requires careful consideration of various factors, including flight time, camera options, durability, and adaptability. Based on our comparison of the top drone models and brands for law enforcement, the DJI M30T and DJI M300 are the most versatile and reliable options.
These drones for law enforcement offer advanced camera capabilities, long flight times, and rugged designs, making them suitable for a range of law enforcement operations, including search and rescue missions, crime scene investigations, and surveillance operations.
However, the Sky Hero Loki 2, Parrot Anafi USA, and Skydio 2+ also offer unique features and capabilities that may be valuable for specific law enforcement needs.
Ultimately, law enforcement agencies should assess their specific requirements and choose a drone that best suits their operational needs and budget.