HALIFAX – The Nova Scotia RCMP has purchased a new fleet of aerial drones to help fight crime in the province.
The drones only weigh 15 pounds each and will give the Mounties a new eye in the sky.
“We refer to them as un-manned aerial systems because we keep the person in the loop as well because you need an operator for it” says RCMP Const. Mark Skinner.
Skinner is one of a handful of operators in the province with a special certificate from Transport Canada to fly the drones.
The aircraft can fly to heights of up to 500 feet and according to police will help out in a variety of different situations.
“The biggest thing is officer safety, should we have a situation where Emergency Response Team is called out, where we have a shooting of some sort,” Skinner said.
The drone can be used at accident sites as a new way to collect evidence, he says.
“So, our collision analyst and reconstructionist use it in court to be able to clearly articulate a collision scene,” explains Skinner.
Police say the drones will be an asset when it comes to major crime investigations, or anywhere with a crime scene spread over a large area.
Two years ago, a drone was credited with saving a man who was lost in the woods in Saskatchewan.
Skinner says drones can now be used for search and rescue operations here.
“If we have a person potentially lost in the woods, or a child gone missing, we could potentially deploy it and use the thermal infrared camera to detect them in the woods,” he says.
The drone has flashing red and green lights as regulated by Transport Canada. It’s operated by a remote control, and can stay in the air for about 20 minutes at a time.
The drone is also equipped with a 20.2 megapixel camera.
“Depending on the situation we’re in, it can take pictures, it can take a video with a normal with a normal Sony camera, or it can take a FLIR, when I say FLIR it is a thermal imaging camera. That’s what were limited to in this respect,” says Skinner.
The RCMP now has five drones across the province, at a price tag of $30,000 each. They are officially being put into service this year.
“It’s cost saving for us. Instead of having a chopper up to take aerial footage, we can send this up and within probably minutes, you will have very clear pictures of a scene,” Sgt Al LeBlanc tells Global News.