In a matter of weeks, drones have arrived as a tool for local police departments looking to help control further outbreak of COVID-19 cases.
Thus far, the most common use case appears to be utilizing the machines to reinforce social distancing rules. If a crowd gathers in a public area, an officer will deploy a drone that will, via loudspeakers and a recorded message, urge citizens to disperse. This use case originated in countries like China and Spain.
According to multiple sources within the Elizabeth Police Department in New Jersey, officers see public crowds on a daily basis, whether on street corners, in play areas or in public streets.
“The practical reasoning is that a drone can cover more ground and have a greater vantage point over officers on the ground,” according to an emailed statement from the department. “It also facilitates in assisting patrol in getting to hard to reach areas. Officers can patrol remote areas without leaving their vehicle area. PSAs can be delivered in public places without the danger of officer contact.”