Progressive public safety agencies continually evaluate emerging technology to evaluate its application within their communities. Over the past several years, the use of UAV’s (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) have evolved to the point of being a tool placed in many public safety agencies toolboxes. Their cost has dramatically decreased, which their abilities have become more refined. UAV’s allow the aerial view of large areas allowing for a variety of advantages in public safety;
• Search and rescue of vulnerable or missing persons.
• Damage evaluation following a disaster.
• Crime scene documentation.
• Critical incident management.
• Officer safety during dangerous incidents.
In 2018 the Big Lake Police Department acquired a UAV for these purposes, funded by a grant, and donations. For our UAV, we selected the DJI Inspire with FLIR Technology (forward-looking infrared cameras, typically used on military and civilian aircraft, use a thermographic camera that senses infrared radiation to see in the dark).
Our UAV is affectionately named Brutus, it is a shared resource for all governmental entities in Big Lake and Sherburne County. Brutus is kept ready in a specially designed patrol car which is shared by our two UAV Pilots, Officers Guy Chaffee and Nic Prigge.
The Big Lake Police Department has undergone the licensing and flight requirements necessary by the Federal Aviation Administration to fly day and night as a public safety entity. To address issues of privacy, the Big Lake Police Department has implemented a full policy regarding usage of Brutus, in particular we will not utilize it to gather evidence in areas that have a reasonable expectation of privacy without a search warrant.