HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) – Changing the way police work. Hartford police announced the launch of a new drone program.
The small unmanned aircraft is already being used in operations and will replace the work of multiple officers.
The first time the drone was used was last month in Keney Park in the search for an 8-year-old missing boy. The boy was ultimately found at a neighbor’s house, but the drone replaced the work of multiple officers.
The drone program has been in the works for years to enhance public safety. A more effective way to have officers search the woods or Connecticut rivers.
Four officers are licensed with the FAA to operate the high-end drones. It began as a grant program with help from legislators to address the ATV and dirt bike issues.
There are ten drones in total, three will be used for crime scene reconstruction and seven will be used for operations. Drones have already been used to help officers get a look at rooftops and to recover a stolen car behind a building being used in robberies.
In a demonstration on Wednesday, the drone went several hundred feet in the air and in seconds, was over the Connecticut River.
“Each one of these drones, when they fly, is for a specific purpose. We don’t fly drones on random patrols. Our drones fly for very specific issues. Recently, missing person cases, critical incidents, we know we’ve got the Hartford Marathon this Saturday, see from above what our traffic is looking like,” said Hartford Police Chief Jason Thody.
“Another one is rooftops. We’ve had several incidents in the city. Burglars make their way to the rooftop. Again, taking the place of a police officer, sending them up 20 stories to a roof, we’re able to deploy the drone and get on top of the roof in a minute,” said Sgt. Chris Mastroianni.
For now, the drones will be used for pre-planned operations, but ultimately Chief Thody says it can potentially be used for dangerous pursuits.