Mass. police using drones for emergency situations

BURLINGTON, MASS. (WHDH) - Drones, it seems, are everywhere.

While many people have fun with drone photography and racing, law enforcement is using them for serious situations.

One local police department is stretching the boundaries of what drones can do to fight crime.

When police were involved in a tense stand-off with two men inside a Billerica home a few months ago, a police drone gave them a valuable view of the back of the house.

“I knew I’d be able to come through the wood line safely,” said Officer Sage Costa.

Officer Costa is a member of the Burlington police drone team.

He was operating the drone that summer day last year.

A police officer couldn’t get this close to the house without putting themself at risk. But the drone can.

“As we were panning around the back windows, we were able to look in and see a foot of one of the suspects lying down,” says Officer Costa. “That’s good intel.”

The video streamed to commanders in the front, so they knew where the men were and what they were doing.

Costa says that information helped police resolve the situation peacefully.

Costa and his team have been flying drones in emergency situations for the last two years.

In addition to aiding in standoffs, the drones have helped search for missing people and recorded traffic conditions after car accidents.

The images can be sent live to all cruisers in the area.

The drone has the latest technology, motion tracking. If police need to keep an eye on someone the drone will get the job done. A blue ring circles the person as the drone uses artificial intelligence to follow them.

“Any way that we can assist with the drone, it’s what we want to do,” said Officer Costa.

Like the Burlington Police Department, more than four thousand public safety agencies across the country use drones in emergency situations. How much help can they provide? Experts say the sky is the limit.

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