MPD in early stages of drone program

MPD in early stages of drone program

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The Memphis Police Department has confirmed the department is in the "beginning stages" of developing a drone program. 

So far, MPD has one Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. 

In a public records response, an MPD spokesperson said to their understanding, "the drone had not been used yet."

However, officers were spotted flying a drone at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 49th remembrance event.
"An eye in the sky is always helpful," said Robert Estes.

Estes is a drone expert who builds his own flying machines and has spent years contracting with government agencies.
"I've helped look for fugitives with the use of thermal imaging, several years ago," Estes said.

He said he is not surprised government agencies are turning toward the technology.
"A flying machine versus a helicopter, look at the cost," Estes said. "It's an enormous amount of difference, in cost." 
MPD plans on using the technology in search and rescue operations, hostage cases, and at barricade scenes.

Estes said drones are helpful tools when the operators are fully trained. 
"You don't learn how to fly a flying machine in two weeks, three weeks, or four weeks, that takes time," Estes said.

MPD has not said how many licensed drone operators are currently on staff, and they do not yet have any footage captured by drones.

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