The police are increasingly using drones and are also buying more in the coming years. At the moment, the police have 60 drones, but that should be 130 in two years. The drones were deployed around 600 times last year, this year they went into the air about 800 times.
Today, police drones are still mainly used in road accidents and in the maintenance of public order. But in the future, the police also want to use them in matters such as explosive reconnaissance, the search for properties where drugs are produced and as support for the water police.
“ It is a new tool that is increasingly empowering the police to do police work,” says Peije de Meij of the police. “It offers many new opportunities. We can mount anything on the drones. Cameras, thermal images, speakers, light.” And it can be decisive, says De Meij, for example when searching for missing children in a nature reserve.
In an accident, a drone is already very valuable, says drone pilot Leonie Knapen. “From above you can see more traces, because the image tells more from the sky than from the ground. Then you cant see whether a car has driven through the roadside or not. But you can see that from the sky very nicely.”
Police drone team is now driving across the country to assist agents, says Knapen. Thats what happens when theres a demonstration somewhere. “We have flown a lot of flights because of corona, to see how busy it is at a demonstration and whether people are keeping to the agreements,” she says. “You can see from the sky much better than from the ground whether people are too close to each other, or that people are fine.”
A drone is not a substitute for the police helicopter, says De Meij. “He can sometimes do other things, has a tremendous speed, you can transport people and stuff with it. It is complementary.” New applications are being considered. “For example, when observing premises, in an inconspicuous way. That can come within our reach in the future,” says De Meij.
The police are not allowed to fly over a residential area. Like the drone hobbyist, the police have to adhere to strict rules. “This work is the same as normal police work,” says De Meij. “For example, if we shoot at an event, less permission is required than if you want to make far-reaching images in the private domain. Then you have much more stringent rules.” Furthermore, the police must provide well-trained people and professional equipment.
A drone with all the trimmings costs about 50,000 euros, says De Meij. Reason enough to be careful with it. “If it blows too hard, we dont take the risk. And there are more circumstances that we need to take into account. Above certain areas you can fly limited, for example near an airport.”
Drone pilot Knapen is now working full-time with the drones. “A very nice bet last year was summer on a very hot day, to find a biscuit. It wasnt a police job, but we were in the neighborhood, and then you get a question of help. Together with the farmer, we found the young calf, which otherwise would not have survived in the warmth.”