The Somerset Police Department which is under the jurisdiction of the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office recently earned itself a additional pair of wings. Shannon Smith who is the Captain and the only pilot on the team came back with an FAA certification in October that will now allow the law enforcement agency to use unmanned aerial crafts to collect evidence.
Smith received his training in Houston and can now train other officers in the department. Somerset PD has also managed to procure an $1800 drone which will be put into operation by the end of summer. The agency has already drafted rules and regulations for the use of the unmanned aircraft.
While the police are thrilled to have the drone on their team which is likely to save them a lot of time and effort, some citizens are wary of the move. The biggest concern being cited is that the use of the unmanned craft is likely to infringe on privacy laws and that the surveillance may quickly get to point where it turns into a menace even for taxpaying and law abiding citizens.
However, these concerns are being shot down by the police department with the reasoning that only the method used for evidence retrieval in being changed not the process. Captain Smith clarified that despite the enthusiasm and anticipation among department members surrounding the use of the drone, they cannot just go around unleashing the aerial craft against hapless citizens on a whim.
The regulations on the matter are very clear- The drone can be used for surveillance and evidence gathering activity only after a search warrant is sanctioned by the court. Somerset PD already owns a small manned gyroplane which is currently being used. However, the department welcomes the addition of the drone which will be able to handle areas that cannot safely be accessed by the gyroplane.