Amarillo Police Department using drones for new Regional Crime Center

KFDA THE EARLY SHOW - Amarillo Police flying drones for new Regional Crime Center
Published: Jan. 19, 2023 at 9:54 AM CST|Updated: Jan. 19, 2023 at 10:08 AM CST
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - The Amarillo Police Department will be using drones as the latest way to help fight crime.

The drones help by mapping crime scenes, aiding in search and rescue and finding a suspect on foot or by car.

“The idea behind any technology is to be a force multiplier,” says Lt. Shane Chadwick, project manager for the Amarillo Regional Crime Center, Amarillo Police Department. “It adds an eye on the street that we wouldn’t have otherwise. It frees up resources to take care of major calls but still allows us to keep an eye on other things that we wouldn’t be able to without a human resource.”

Drones will be available 24/7 to officers in the field and can even act as first responders.

“We’re only going to be using it to find bad guys doing what they’re not supposed to or looking for people that need to be found,” says Lt. Chadwick.

They are flown under the regulations of the federal aviation administration and pilots have to be licensed to fly a drone and go through 50 to 60 hours of training. Some features include it can go 400 feet in the air, it has a wide-angle lens, a zoom and a thermal camera.

“In theory, we’re trying to get the drones in place and get eyes on a suspect maybe as are committing a crime or leaving a crime and the drone has the ability to follow them at that point, while officers are arriving and trying to get to that scene,” says Lt. Chadwick.

The department aims to have 13 drones stationed around the city.

“We’re not to use them for any other reason than a patrolman patrolling the street, all it’s going to give us the ability to do is to see from a greater part of a neighborhood as opposed to a guy that’s literally driving down each and every street trying to find somebody,” says Lt. Chadwick.

The drones will be a part of APD’s new Regional Crime Center which is still in progress. The center will be a hub with license plate readers, intersection cameras, drones, and data integration. It is expected to be completed by spring 2024.

Currently, APD has drones and license plate readers operational.

“Drones are going to be a bad thing for bad guys because they’re not going to be able to hide from that,” says Lt. Chadwick.