The Lakewood Police Department in McHenry County, Illinois, recently acquired a drone to assist with their duties, joining other police departments in the county. Drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), are small flying devices controlled by a remote. They are extensively used by law enforcement agencies for various purposes such as locating missing persons, investigating accidents, creating traffic route maps for large events, and monitoring public safety.
The drone purchased by the Lakewood Police Department has advanced features, including thermal capabilities, making it easier to identify warm objects such as missing individuals at night. It is also equipped to handle intense weather conditions, allowing it to be deployed in cold and rainy environments. According to co-founders of drone company Aerial Influence, Michael Ferguson and David Plummer, the drone selected by the Lakewood Police Department is considered the best in the market for public safety applications.
Other police departments in McHenry County, including Algonquin, Crystal Lake, Cary, and Woodstock Police Departments, as well as the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office, have also integrated drones into their operations. These drones are used for crash investigations, locating missing persons, and enhancing public safety during special events. Additionally, fire departments, city planners, and farmers in the area have found utility in using drones to investigate fires, survey construction sites, and spray pesticides.
Officers from the Lakewood Police Department plan to assist other agencies, including the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office, by utilizing the capabilities of their newly acquired thermal drone. The drone will be used to give back to the community in return for the help the Lakewood Police Department has received in the past.
Obtaining drones can be challenging for police departments due to limited financial support from the government. However, departments often rely on donations and budget allocations to acquire these devices. In McHenry County, the Woodstock Police Department recently purchased two drones, and the Wonder Lake Fire Protection District received a donated drone.
The adoption of drones by law enforcement agencies has raised concerns regarding privacy and surveillance. However, police departments assure the public that drones are only used when necessary and not for constant surveillance. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Illinois has taken a neutral stance on the use of drones by police after working to establish protections to limit their usage and the storage of collected information.
Overall, drones have proven to be valuable tools for police departments, allowing them to increase efficiency and effectiveness in carrying out their duties while keeping officers safe in dangerous situations.