From the green hills of Northern Ireland to the sunny shores of Trinidad, police drones are on patrol – saving lives, pursuing bad guys and protecting borders.
Last week, the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board demonstrated nine recently purchased ELIX-XL quadcopters from Estonian drone company ELI Airborne Solutions deployed to protect the Baltic nation’s eastern border. The $600,000 drone squadron will also be used for search and rescue.
“The use of drones in the everyday work of the border guard creates even better possibilities for preventing, detecting and stopping border incidents,” Estonian Interior Ministry official Raivo Kuut told the media. “Whether it is an illegal border crossing, a rescue incident on a border body of water or a landscape search — the information gathered with the help of a done gives border guards additional possibilities for planning and executing their activities,” added state police official Helen Neider-Veerme.
Northern Ireland police launched drones last week to search for a 31-year-old missing man. Beatbox performer Michael Cullen was last seen Jan. 9 in the Cave Hill region near Belfast. His disappearance was described as “highly out of character.”
The Police Service of Northern Ireland’s Air Support Unit is sweeping the area north of Belfast. The PSNI implemented the drone program in 2013, to protect a G8 summit in Belfast. The drone cop quickly earned its keep, providing the bomb squad with a bird’s-eye view of a small, unexploded explosive that was later defused.
Last week, officers in Trinidad tracked down two suspects who reportedly fired shots before fleeing the scene in a stolen car. Using one of four year-old drones, police were able to gather real-time imagery of the car as it snaked through the streets of El Dorado. Thanks to the eye in the sky, police successfully detained two men, recovering a Lugar semi-automatic pistol and more than 180 grams of marijuana.
“We want to use these drones to ensure that police carry out their duties within the legal framework that governs the [national police],” a police official said.
Isle of Man
The Isle of Man is looking for some unmanned police assistance via drone. Police are seeking a drone facility to “provide a 24-hour call-out to assist with road traffic collisions, area searches and crime scene investigations,” according to news reports.
The program is part of an emerging tech strategy the constabulary announced two years ago and includes plans to add body cameras, license-plate recognition software and autonomous speed detectors.