Unmanned aerial vehicles provide invaluable investigative support

The Lethbridge Regional Police Service recently added three Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to its fleet to help give officers an investigative eye in the sky.

The Tarot 680 Pro Hexacopter is a manually-controlled aircraft that is equipped with an HD camera and search light and is capable of streaming live video through 3G/LTE networks. LRPS also has a Tarot Quad and DJI Phantom with similar functionality.

The UAV program was first launched in May following extensive research, testing and consultation with Transport Canada and Nav Canada. LRPS UAVs can operate at an altitude of 300 feet in the city.

The use of UAVs by law enforcement is increasing across Canada and other agencies, including the RCMP, Calgary Police and Edmonton Police, have established programs.

UAVs are used an investigative tool in a variety of cases, including major crimes, motor vehicle collisions, searching for missing persons in challenging terrain, tactical calls and more. Since the inception of the LRPS program, the UAV has been deployed more than half a dozen times.

UAVs are not used to conduct general patrols of an area; they are only deployed to assist in an active investigation and may only record video in relation to the incident being investigated.

Cst. Jonathan Blackwood, who operates the LRPS UAVs, has more than a year and a half experience with the devices and holds a UAV Ground School Certificate.

LRPS is always looking for ways to enhance the level of service we provide and the use of UAVs is an efficient, cost-effective tool to help officers provide safe communities.