Indiana State Police hopes to use drones in near future - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Indiana State Police hopes to use drones in near future

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JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (WDRB) -- Indiana State Police hopes to soon use another tool to help with modern-day policing, and it would be hundreds of feet in the air.

ISP says drones could help them solve crimes, but the only problem is getting approval in the form of a search warrant.

“It's a huge tool in so many different aspects of law enforcement,” Sgt. Philip Hensley said of drone use.

From hundreds of feet in the air, drones are able to capture views unlike anything else. It's those eyes in the sky that could change the world of policing, according to Hensley.

“You would use it for crowd control, crowd monitoring,” he said.

Think of events like Thunder Over Louisville: With crowds that size on both sides of the Ohio River, drones could enhance the work of what police are already looking for on the ground.

“Fights that may break out, any sort of gang activity, that's the kind of things we're trying to monitor anyway,” Hensley said. “A view that we wouldn't have necessarily caught on the ground, but having that different angle, we could catch it and get people right to it and possibly resolve a situation before it ever happens.”

The only obstacle is that a search warrant would be necessary for that type of monitoring. In 2014, then-Gov. Mike Pence signed a bill protecting people's privacy. But some say they don't think that type of drone use is invasive.

“Me, I wouldn't necessarily, because I know the police are only looking out for the better of the people,” Stone Williams said.

“I think it would help the public more than it would invade anybody's privacy,” Jenna Meffert.

Hensley said police helicopters that monitor large crowds do not require search warrants because it’s at an altitude where it’s not needed.

Currently, ISP does not use drones, but by law they would be able to use them for search and rescue efforts, emergency situations and crash reconstruction.

“Put this in the air, and in 20 minutes I'm going to have a two-scale diagram of photos and videos, and I'm going to be in the process of opening the roadway to alleviate possible secondary crashes and just to clear up the traffic jams," Hensley said.

Hensley said a lot goes into building a drone program, including cost, training and abiding by FAA regulations. He hopes a test program will start in the next year or so.

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