Winnipeg police are now adding drones to their arsenal of crime fighting-tools, thus growing ranks of law enforcement agencies across Canada. The orders for issuing a tender for the purchase of a drone or remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS) have already been done by the City of Winnipeg at the request of the Winnipeg Police Service.
“We can do things with a drone that we simply can’t, currently” do with existing resources, said Winnipeg police spokesperson Const. Rob Carver. The Winnipeg police have listed several specifications in the tender for their drones, such as GPS, video and thermal imaging cameras, and the ability to turn off lights. There are now various uses for which drones are used by police forces across Canada. Some common uses are searching for missing people, taking aerial images of traffic collisions or crime scenes, and identifying suspects in connection with incidents.
Police drones can prove to be quite useful
Winnipeg’s drones would help the police guide a lost person out of danger, and avoid the need for an exhaustive ground search by using a loudspeaker as one of its options. Hazardous materials or disaster scenes without putting personnel at risk is an added advantage of such a feature.
The Vancouver Police Board also approved a policy to begin using three drones for police operations within that city, on 19th September 2019. The Vancouver Police have cited the revision of regulations for drones in June by Transport Canada as their reason to bring the drone proposal forward. According to these rules, it is now mandatory for drone operators to take a certification test and register their drones. Furthermore, drone usage around airports and in emergency situations has also been prohibited. These rules have been made keeping in mind the privacy concerns with the increasing number of drones.
“The question isn’t, could these things be useful to police? It should be, what are the risks of police specifically having control over this technology?” said Bronwyn Dobchuk-Land, a professor in the criminal justice department at the University of Winnipeg. The City of Winnipeg tender doesn’t specify a price for the drone, but Carver says the funds would come from a pool of money held by the province through civil forfeitures, not from the general police budget.