State troopers to start using aerial drones for criminal cases, disaster response, traffic detail
Wednesday, January 10, 2018 - 5:35 pm

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the launch of the new State Police Unmanned Aerial System program, which supporters say will be used to support law enforcement missions, including disaster response and traffic safety.

The first four State Police aerial drones will be put into service this month in Troop A, which serves eight counties in Western New York, Troop D, which serves seven counties in the Central New York region, Troop F, which serves five southern counties west of the Hudson River, and Troop G, which serves ten counties in the Capital Region.

By April 2018, an additional 14 aerial drones will be deployed throughout the state, possibly in Northern New York.

"This state-of-the-art technology will improve emergency response, improve operational and cost efficiencies and increase Trooper safety," Cuomo said in a pre-written statement. "We will continue to implement innovative technologies to improve our ability to protect New Yorkers across this great state."

Troopers will use drone technologies for “law enforcement and public safety missions, taking advantage of the flexibility and efficiencies that aerial drones provide,” according to a news release.

“Acquiring and operating the systems provide a significant cost savings over manned aircraft, and will be deployed in multiple locations across the state, reducing response times and making operations more efficient and cost-effective. The aerial drones can also be used in dangerous situations and environments, including natural disasters, keeping State Troopers out of harm's way,” the release reads.

The unmanned aerial system can "document and help reconstruct serious motor vehicle crashes in less time than with current methods, resulting in shorter road closures, lessening the impact on motorists." Investigators will also use the aerial drones to document and photograph crime scenes, according to the release.

State police members who will operate the drone system will be FAA certified and undergo 32 hours of hands-on training with the systems.

The New York State Trooper Foundation is donating 16 of the aerial drone systems to the state police.