JONESBORO — The Jonesboro Police Department is flying high by utilizing new technology with its drone program.
JPD now has eight drones and seven pilots to lean on.
Capt. Todd Nelson, commander of JPD’s Criminal Investigation Division and who oversees the drone program, said he and the other pilots are well-trained.
Pilots are trained by the Federal Aviation Administration for a commercial license. They received continued education on a monthly basis, Nelson said.
Jonesboro police used a drone to fly over the residence of a suspect in bank and grocery story robberies recently. Nelson said a search warrant was first obtained from a judge before the drone was used.
With the SWAT team on stand-by the drone was used to check on the exits from the house and to get a glimpse of the layout of the residence, Nelson said.
According to the JPD website, “The department started this program to better serve the community in a technological world. Drones are an efficient and effective way of providing law enforcement with critical information to respond to calls for service, emergency situations, hostage situations, barricaded suspects, or to conduct criminal investigations. Some examples include providing an overhead view of an area or incident to ground personnel, safely clearing the interior of buildings, providing detailed documentation of crime and accident scenes, and searching for lost or missing persons.”
Nelson said the drones have helped the fire department with fire scenes.
Drones are also utilized sometimes at traffic accidents, Nelson said, as well as search-and-rescue events.
He said four of the small drones can be used inside or outside of structures.
Usage of drones must be approved by a supervisor, Nelson said, and constitutional safeguards of privacy are followed. He said there are rigorous pre-flight tests that must be followed.