Pros and Cons of Using Surveillance Drones In The Police Department


Security agencies have a tough role of protecting people and their properties in their regions of operations. This has not been easy, especially with high urban population and the growing rate of crimes and crime tactics. The need for security even in challenging situation has force security agencies to adapt different strategies and technologies to enhance their work efficiency. Surveillance drone is one of the technologies employed to enhance this practice. Drone refers to Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle (UAV) or Unmanned Aircraft System that is flown with no human pilot on-board. Drone main function is to conduct surveillance at a particular region, sending the corrected data to a police center at real time (McKnight, 2015). The form of operation highly depends on the type of drones used. In the spirit of enhancing police work efficiency, the Mayor of city wishes to purchase and deploy surveillance drones to be used by Virtual City Police Department. However, this idea is being objected by some members of city councils, citing a number of disadvantages related to drones over sworn personnel. This research paper focuses on conducting gathering information regarding the pros and cons of using surveillance drones in the department.

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Pros of Surveillance Drones

Drone is a unique technology that enhances a high level of surveillance using unmanned aircraft. The technology is being adopted mostly by security forces to enhance the collection of security related data especially in dangerous, dull or dirty places where police need to conduct undercover investigation. This ensures that the police gather the required security data without risking the life of any personnel. It safeguards human pilots from a number of environmental hazards and fatigue (Finn & Wright, 2012). It therefore makes these processes to be much easier and effectively done. UAVs play also enhances surveillance in vulnerable and remote location. UAVs also assist in creating situational awareness. The technology conduct aerial surveillance and they cover a designated region, collecting data at real-time. The collected data is mostly sent or received at real-time in the crime intelligence unit in the police department. This makes it easy for crime investigator to learn of new criminal practices that could have not been discovered without this technology, especially due to its high level of persistence.

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Another major advantage of this technology is that it can be used on demand, and hence it can only be used when need be. The system contains tasking flexibility and hence it can be assist to assess the situation during disastrous situation such as natural calamities, or they can be used for surveillance. Drones contain plug and play abilities for their payload. This makes it possible to use tailored systems. In addition, drones can back high-resolution sensors or imager, even in remote areas (Finn & Wright, 2012).

One of the main advantages of using drone is that unlike other manned surveillance aircraft, drone can remain in position for more than 20 hours. This means that UAVs can play a great role in collecting more significant data and late hours or at critical times and hence ensuring a lengthy period of surveillance and a higher chance of obtaining crucial information, necessary for enhancement of security in the applied region. This high level of persistence makes UAVs more reliable and effective in collecting crime data in the designated region. UAVs can thus be used to discover unauthorized access on top of aliens apprehension support (Haddal & Gertler, 2010).

Drone is a very useful tool in criminal investigation process. The device is set to ensure that when security anomalies are detected such as window breaking, it should fly above the identified area where it should correct and relay all unfolding event to the connected center until the problem is solved. This is easily managed by the technicians on the ground. This feature makes it easy for security personnel to identify crimes taking place across the covered region and work with urgency to resolve them. Drone therefore plays a great role in facilitating maintenance of peace and order in the covered, protection of citizen’s property, and in arresting and prosecuting offenders. It also assists in learning offenders’ behaviors and some of the tactics they used to succeed in their mission. Drones play a great role in resolving serious security mysteries such as serial murders, mass shooting, and homicide among other dangerous crimes especially when it is focused to collect data at a specific region at night. The aerial view makes it easy to see every small detail of what is happening in a city or jurisdiction (Boucher, 2015).

Cons of Surveillance Drone

Surveillance drone is a new technology that is still evolving. This means that the technology is still being improved to address various hitches that have been identified in its operational process. Drone is based on immature technology that is still in the process of being developed to promote its functionality and to eliminate all possible loopholes in its general operation. This means that the technology is not 100% reliable since, there could be some unnoticed system bugs or there could be some noticed by unresolved bugs that can affect its operation or limits its operations especially in challenging times (Coliandris & Coliandris, 2015). One of the main issues encountered with this technology is high rate of accidents compared to manned aircraft. According to Coliandris and Coliandris(2015), the UAV technology lacks enough redundancy in its operating system, and hence high rate of anticipated accidents. Moreover, a small system failure occurrence in UAV, there is no human pilot to try to control the situation. This means that the ground controller of UAV would be at experiencing great challenges to manage the aircraft and in some cases where whether condition is part of the, the connection is lost and hence making it hard to avoid accidents. Another main disadvantage is that the UAV surveillance operation can be influenced by the weather condition. Severe weather condition can interrupt the surveillance capability of UAV, particularly when the drone is only equipped with Forward Looking Infrared Radar (FLIR) and EO camera. This is due to the fact that high humidity and cloudy weather situation can distort the FLIR and EO produced imagery. This implies that the technology may not be efficiency all the time, and that it can only be used in a good weather day (Coliandris & Coliandris, 2015).

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Another mainly cited disadvantage of UAV surveillance technology is cost. The UAV operational costs are over twice the operational cost of a manned aircraft. AUVs need a substantial level of maintenance training, specialized operator, and logistical support. Operating a single UAV is said to involve about 20 support personnel crew for effective operations. More, the UAVs use has resulted to reduced alien anxieties per hour of flight compared to manned aircraft. UAVs are considerably cheap to procure compared to manned aircraft, nevertheless their operational cost is considerably high (Haddal & Gertler, 2010). In this regard the UAVs cost life cycle is considerably high compared to that of manned aircraft. Nevertheless, this operation cost might be somewhat offset by UAV reasonably lower unit costs, compared to the manned Aircraft whose unit costs which is significantly high. Although UAVs is said to produce effective results, this view is contradicted at different levels. UAVs is applauded as an important and safe tool which has played a great role in illegal immigration apprehension and seizing drugs, some argues that its effectiveness can only be applied in military departments and not efficient or economical in enforcement of civilian law applications. According to Finn and Wright(2012), there are other kinds of technologies that can offer a higher level of practicality in terms of the involved cost.

Another cited disadvantage of UAVs is the compromising privacy of the people. Drone provides surveillance at all the times, creating the possibility that everything done on the ground is recorded and it can be used against any member of the public. This means drones surveillance can affect the civil liberties of the people in the region. Application of surveillance technologies might undermine people’s freedom of expression or freedom of assembly, as a result of a chilling effect which discourages people from taking part in public dissention activities or social movements (Finn & Wright, 2012)


The analysis clearly shows the different advantages and disadvantages of using drone technology for surveillance purposes. Based on this analysis, it is clear that drone present a number of benefits to the security agencies especially with regard to collection of security data in dangerous and remote areas. It also enhances easy surveillance with prolonged period of surveillance. These among others make this technology highly admirable in security forces. Nevertheless, drone also present a number of challenges which cut across various aspects of life that include the economic aspect due to cost, safety aspect, and social aspect as it is said to interfere with civil liberty. The presentation provides the mayor will advance information which will make him and his council to weigh the benefits over disadvantages and make an informed decision regarding this mater.

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