Pubdate: Thu, 17 Nov 2016
Source: Chatham Daily News, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2016 Chatham Daily News
Author: Ellwood Shreve


Device can be used for surveillance, chief says

The Chatham-Kent Police Service expects to have a new tool in place.

Three years after police chief Gary Conn raised the idea of purchasing
a drone, approval was granted at Tuesday's meeting of the Chatham-Kent
Police Services Board.

Conn said the RFP is expected to be ready within a month and told
board members money for the estimated $110,000 to $120,000 purchase
has been set aside in reserve in the fleet budget. He said the goal is
to have 12 officers trained and have the drone operational by early

The chief outlined several uses for the drone. But the device will be
used mostly for accident reconstruction, for the search of missing and
lost persons, and for intelligence purposes.

The drone will also enhance efficiency while saving time, resources
and money, said Conn.

He cited marijuana eradication as an example. The police service
typically spends up to $10,000 to rent a helicopter to search for
marijuana growing in farm fields across Chatham-Kent.

"We will, right off the bat, be able to eliminate that cost with this
device," he said.

And when it comes to searching for lost and missing persons, Conn
said, "it just reduces the amount of time and staffing we have had to
use in the past in having to try to locate individuals."

Noting the police service patrols 2,500 square kilometres, a lot of it
rural, Conn said, "it can take up to hours if the last know location
of a (lost or missing) individual happened to be a corn field."

Such a search would normally require use of the entire C.I.R.T
(Critical Incident Response Team), plus additional resources.

"This drone will be able to search acres within minutes," he said,
noting the device will also be equipped with a thermal imaging camera.

Thermal imaging will also allow officers to use the drone when
pursuing suspects on foot who have entered remote areas. Conn's report
outlined several other uses, including providing live video feed to
officers responding to incidents involving suspects barricaded with
weapons, as well as executing drug search warrants.

If authorized by a court, the drone - which provides a live video feed
from up to three kilometres away - can be used for surveillance, the
chief said.

Conn said 12 officers will be trained, as two people required to
operate the device, including a pilot who flies the drone and an
operator using the camera and other capabilities.

Officers will be certified through Transport Canada taking the
'Special Flight Operators Course,' which takes a week to complete, the
chief said.

The police service also plans to rent out the drone. Possible examples
are use by the municipality to map a new subdivision, or the fire
service seeking an aerial view of a fire scene.

Conn said other police services using drones include the OPP and RCMP
as well as York, London and Barrie police services.

When asked if drones will become standard equipment for police
services, Conn said, "certainly with the advancements of technology, I
think in the future you will see more usage of a device like this."

Looking at the enhanced capabilities a drone provides, he said, "I
think the advantages are pretty clear."
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