DC Police Department Introduces New Drone Fleet, Helicopter

June 25, 2024
"They'll help us solve more violent crimes and allow us to use our finite resources more efficiently," said D.C.'s mayor about the district's new police drone program.

Washington, D.C., police officers will have a new tool at their disposal as the agency begins to use drones on certain calls.

The department's new program was introduced Monday, along with a fleet of five Parrot Anafie drones, The Washington Post reports. The drones will be deployed for a variety of calls, including barricade situations, crowd control, search-and-rescue operations and the execution of high-risk warrants.


“The bottom line is that (drones) will help the community and our officers as we are working to make violent crime go down in the District,” said Mayor Muriel E. Bowser. “They’ll help us solve more crimes and allow us to use our finite resources more efficiently.”

Along with introducing the drone fleet, the department outlined the extent that officers would use drones. For instance, drones would not currently be deployed as first responders on call, but that is something the agency could revisit in the future.

The drones will only be used if they're in the line of sight of an officer, and they won't be flown for "general surveillance," according to Chief Pamela A. Smith. The devices also will not be equipped with facial recognition or artificial intelligence technology.

“We know that the use of new technology can give rise to concerns about privacy, and I want to assure you that we are also focused on protecting the community’s privacy,” said Smith.

Roughly 1,500 police and law enforcement agencies in the United States use drones, and the technology can be an efficient force multiplier for departments facing staffing struggles, such as D.C., which is at a 50-year low for officers. The D.C. police officials also see drones as another way to funnel information to the department's real-time crime center, which was unveiled earlier this year.

Along with the drone fleet, D.C. police also will have a new helicopter to help them with air support. A new $6 million Falcon 1 police helicopter outfitted with an upgraded camera and mapping technology will replace the agency's older model that has been in use since 2001.

About the Author

Joe Vince

Joining Endeavor Business Media in 2018, Joe has worked on the company's city services publications. He began working at OFFICER.com as the assistant editor. Before starting at Endeavor, Joe had worked for a variety of print and online news outlets, including the Indianapolis Star, the South Bend Tribune, Reddit and Patch.com.

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