Introducing Drones to Enhance Emergency Response
Schenectady Police Department is set to revolutionize its emergency response system by adding a fleet of advanced drones to its toolkit.
Police Chief Eric Clifford has announced plans for these police drones to assist in various non-violent and quality-of-life incidents, aiming to address criticism of slow response times. The drones are expected to be operational by the fall.
Immediate Benefits: Evidence Gathering and Situational Awareness
Clifford envisions these drones to provide immediate assistance in gathering evidence and assessing the true nature of unfolding events.
The ability to deploy drones quickly to a scene will offer critical situational awareness, potentially altering how officers respond to various situations.
This technology could be crucial in understanding and managing crime scenes that span multiple locations.
Partnership with Brinc for Advanced Drone Technology
Schenectady Police have identified Brinc, a Seattle-based public safety technology company, as their partner for this initiative.
The company's advanced drones come with night vision, the ability to open doors, break glass, and produce 3D maps.
These capabilities are a significant upgrade from the current drones used by the city police.
Six-Year Agreement and Financials
The City Council has approved a six-year deal with Brinc, valued at approximately $695,000.
This agreement includes an unlimited repair-and-replacement warranty, software, and hardware upgrades for at least three Brinc drones, and the innovative Brinc Balls for two-way communication.
A FEMA grant of nearly $40,000 will help cover part of the cost for the first year.
Multifaceted Use of Drones
While primarily envisioned for policing, the drones' utility extends to public safety in general. They could be used by the fire department and code-enforcement officers.
The drones will be featured on medical calls and used to assess crowd sizes, demonstrating their versatility as a public safety tool.
Addressing Privacy Concerns and Regulations
He emphasizes that the department will respect the preferences of callers who insist on speaking to a police officer in person.
Unique ‘First Responder' Drone Program
Detective Sergeant Bradley Carlton of the Schenectady Police Department highlighted the uniqueness of this program. In the initial phase, tactical drones called Lemur 2 will be used in situations like barricaded subject calls.
These drones can break glass, offer two-way communication, and even carry a cell phone into a building if necessary.
Future Plans and Expansion
The program's subsequent phase will introduce drones that can autonomously respond to calls from designated city locations.
Mayor Gary McCarthy envisions these drones eventually responding to non-police emergency calls, such as fires.
Approved on Tuesday, the drones are expected to be in action by the end of next year or early 2025. This program represents a significant step forward in integrating advanced technology into emergency response, potentially setting a precedent for other cities to follow.
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