Law Enforcement Drones: Public Safety and First Responder Operations

As more and more consumers turn to drones to capture new aerial perspectives, law enforcement offices have been doing the same. Small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones have been growing in popularity ever since drone manufacturers have made them extremely easy to use and available in a large range of sizes and performance. 

With the ability to be quickly deployed, capture high-quality video, and be equipped with thermal imaging cameras it is easy to see why law enforcement would want to use drones and get an upper hand on the scene.

DN a leader in commercial drone sales and support has been distributing drones to law enforcement offices, search & rescue teams, and fire departments all across the country. We compiled the top six use cases for law enforcement drone use and made an original infographic depicting these situations.

infographic-law enforcement-drones

1. Search & Rescue

With the ability to scan over large areas of land, drones are crucial when looking for lost or missing people. Drones can now be equipped with thermal imaging cameras which allows body heat to be easily visible making the lost or missing people visible.

The live view from the drone’s camera(s) can be hooked up from the controller to an external screen with an HDMI to allow multiple people to view the selected area at once.

Most drones now have the ability to have a preset flight path over a selected area which allows the remote pilot in command to focus on the camera search operation rather than on the operation of the aircraft.

These preset flight paths also ensure that all areas of a given search area are being scanned over. Drones can be set up to have a payload drop system which means that items can be delivered to people via drone. Items such as two-way radios, flotation devices, medical equipment, food, water or other life-saving tools being delivered could really make the difference.

Drones can also be equipped with spotlights that allow for the crews to have greater visibility for night operations. Compared to having a search helicopter, plane, or a large ground crew operation having a smaller team with a drone makes financial sense. With the great versatility that comes with an easy to operate flying platform, it makes sense that drones are so widely used in search and rescue efforts.

2. Traffic Collision Reconstruction

Vehicular accident reconstruction is a major part of law enforcement. With precision GPS, aerial photography and mapping better scene analysis can be accomplished.

Having the ability to mark specific locations and areas where tire marks and vehicles are it paints a better picture of the events that occurred. With 3D models over these pictures, a video can be created that shows exactly where the vehicles collided and where they ended up. In the past manual measurements and recreating what happened from ground photography was time-consuming and is not the most effective or accurate.

Now with the ability to have an easily portable aerial view that can take measurements, it means that investigators can have a more accurate report and they save time doing so.

3. Investigate Active Shooter/Suspects

A quickly deployable eye in the sky means that in active shooter scenarios or in emergencies a greater understanding of the situation means that a better response can be made.

During times of chaos getting, having a vantage point to have an idea of what is unfolding gives response teams more information on how to best address a given situation. The easy portability and ability to have a visual overview in a dangerous area without other people’s lives in danger is something that is unique to drones. Drones not only keep law enforcement officers safer but also the public.

4. Crime Scene Analysis

Crime scene investigators are now using drones to take aerial photography of a scene. Having a greater overview of a specific area means that a more detailed report can be curated. Mapping the specific location of weapons, people, objects, and necessary components of a scene makes reconstructing the timeline of events easier to put together. With more information and mapping, a better case can be put together and presented.

5. Surveillance

The use of drones to monitor people or places of interest at a distance makes sense as it is a non-invasive way of seeing what is happening. Drones equipped with zoom camera means that the drone can be flown far away and see up close in a given location or person. Instead of the old school way of having a stakeout in front of a house or from down the street monitoring can be done remotely and from different angles. This monitoring from a safe distance allows for greater information gathering.

6. CrowD Monitoring

Crowd monitoring with a drone provides an aerial view overview of an area in which many people can be watched from a given location. This allows monitoring officials to have a quick response in the event that an emergency arises. If someone commits a crime and runs into a crowd the aerial perspective allows for the person to easily be watched and tracked. Having a drone monitoring large gatherings of people also allows for assistance into the crowd if someone needs medical attention. With a large remote range and easily swappable batteries, the tracking and monitoring of crowd movement have never been easier.

As drone uses for business flourish, those who fail to take advantage will face difficulty keeping up with the competition that’s recognizing the importance of unmanned machines as data capturing devices. If you’re still on the fence about drones and their practical uses, check the list on drone applications.


The use of drones as a tool for people in the public safety sector to do their job more efficiently and provide a greater range of use makes sense. These devices and technology are not going away, we will see the greater adoption and increased use of drones in many sectors. With drones having the ability to carry small objects, multiple cameras, and spotlights it is easy to see why more law enforcement offices are turning to drones. Drones will continue to be implemented into many industries such as inspection, agriculture, construction, surveying land, and delivery.

Soon enough that buzzing sound from above will just become white noise or it really is a swarm of bees…


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