Dallas Police Considering Using Drones

Steven Pickering
October 23, 2018 - 6:25 am

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DALLAS (1080 KRLD) - The Dallas Police Department is exploring the possibility of using small unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, to help officers with some of their tasks.

DPD officials have presented the Council's Public Safety Committee with an outline of their proposal and could move to begin using drones next year.

The initial proposal put forth by DPD calls for five drones with differing capabilities. "The tactical operations (SWAT), they would have two. We could have a couple of smaller ones for patrol and then one larger one that could stay up a little bit longer," said Assistant Chief Paul Stokes. Those could range from low-end consumer models to more expensive drones with sophisticated cameras designed for law enforcement use. Chief Stokes said they could be used for several different tasks including search-and-rescue operations or monitoring crowds at demonstrations or large events.

"I can see a hundred different uses for this," said Council Member Sandy Greyson. "I can see it being so helpful for police and fire operations."

Other law enforcement agencies, including Arlington Police and the Texas Department of Public Safety, already use drones. The Dallas Police Department would be required to get clearance from federal authorities before beginning a drone program. DPD officials are working on meeting those federal requirements and on building support for the program at City Hall.

Some of the Council Members who were briefed on the proposal on Monday had questions about the cost of the law enforcement drones, along with the estimated total flight time for those devices.

"Putting $7,500 or $10,000 or $30,000 just for 400 hours is a concern to me," said Council Member Kevin Felder. "My concern is the equipment life expectancy."