How drones make law enforcement more efficient

The late evening news on KEVN Black Hills Fox Monday-Friday
Published: Sep. 14, 2023 at 12:14 AM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - A two-week-long manhunt in Pennsylvania came to a close Wednesday with law enforcement taking escaped murderer Danelo Cavalcante into custody. Now that the search is over, we wanted to see how police departments would handle a similar situation in the Black Hills.

Law enforcement used drone and heat imaging technology to locate and ultimately capture the suspect. The Rapid City Police Department and Pennington County Sheriff’s Office use similar technology in their day-to-day operations.

“A drone is awesome just because of the fact that you can put that up instead of having somebody make the approach the vehicle the drone can approach... we can see what’s going on for the most part and make an assessment on how we’re going to approach the vehicle just based off of drone footage,” said Senior Deputy Jeffrey Jones, Pennington County Sheriff’s Office.

Jones recalls a recent search that he says was made easier with a drone.

“Where there was a body in the creek and you could see our deputies’ heat signatures as they were walking away from the creek, and we were able to call them back in and basically bring them right down on the suspect and have them push in on either side of the creek and take them into custody,” said Jones.

Additionally, Jones says this technology can save departments time and resources.

“If we’re trying to beat bushes and go door to door knocking on doors looking for a suspect even if we have a perimeter set up, it’s going to take some time, but if you can get a drone in the air and get that camera working for you,” Jones continued. “We got a really great zoom camera and we have a fantastic thermal camera, it’s going to cut that down to nothing,”

Derek Mann, with the Rapid City Police Department, says this technology is also helpful for scanning and surveying areas like crime scenes.

“Usually my old scans where we didn’t use a drone I’d have to survey the road edge, the grass edge, center lines, damaged vehicles, and all that. Now with the drone knowing that I’m going to get an up-to-date photo of the evidence in the roadway and stuff like that, basically all I have to map and survey is the temporary evidence,” said Mann.

Mann says he predicts this technology will become more common for law enforcement in the next few years.