UAVs in Public Security and Civil Defense (Part II)
By Dialogo August 28, 2012
Two European countries stand out regarding the use of these machines. In 2010, the Merseyside Police in England used a rotary-wing Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) equipped with thermal cameras to locate a suspect who had stolen a car. During the chase, the suspect (a 16 year-old young man at the time) took advantage of the strong fog to hide. The sensors onboard the UAV made his arrest possible because they were able to “see” through the fog. This was the first arrest in the United Kingdom with the help of an unmanned aerial vehicle.
The English use their UAVs to crack down on drug trafficking, control civil unrest, in addition to monitoring missions where the discretion provided by low-silhouette and low-emission noise provided by electric motors is required. Using a similar airplane than that of their Merseyside colleagues, the Derbyshire Police, monitored a series of riots registered in the city of Condor. Currently, England’s Ministry of Justice has been studying the applicability of the UAVs during firefighting activities.
However, the main user of UAVs in Europe is the German Federal Police (Bundespolizei), which utilize rotary-wing machines, including, patrol boats, to support the missions that are under its responsibility, where manned aircraft can be spared.
Across the Atlantic, authorities in the United States resorted to the use of several UAVs to map the regions affected by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which represented the first use of this aircraft for civil defense in the world. Also, police authorities in Texas have been using a rotary-wing model capable of operating less lethal weaponry, and the Ogden Police in Utah, as well as the North Little Rock Police Department in Arkansas have received authorization to use the unmanned vehicles in their missions. Studies are being done in Los Angeles, California, on the use of the UAVs in situations where manned airplanes may be spared in an effort to save resources. Other places like Fairfax, Virginia, and the District of Columbia are already using them. In order to reinforce the speed in which legislators work to allow its adoption throughout the United States, Bob McDonnell, Governor of Virginia and strong advocate of the use of UAV’s in police activities, has been working intensely. Furthermore, the main manufacturer of these aircrafts in the United States expects that over 10,000 corporations will purchase their products. In 2011, the Federal Aviation Administration granted 313 permits to several public and private institutions, various schools and research institutions.
In Brazil, there are currently more than 20 official and non-official initiatives regarding the applicability of UAVs, as well as the development of their sensors (payload). Studies are aimed at military use in public and civil security. Some of the Brazilian institutions involved in these are the Army’s Military Engineering Institute, the Coast and Anti-Aerial Artillery School of the Army, the State University of Bahia, the University of Santa Catarina, the University of Saõ Paulo, the University of Minas Gerais, the Federal University of Bahia, the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte, the Federal University of the Amazon, and the Department of Science and Aerospace Technology, among others.
The following is a brief assessment of what has already been fulfilled in the area of public safety and civil defense:
Since 2010, the Department of Public Safety of the State of Pará has been using two rotary-wing UAVs with combustion engines, and with parts of their bodies consisting of carbon fiber. These UAVs have a full HD color camera, a technical car with complete infrastructure needed by an unmanned mission, and have been used in different corners of the great Brazilian state, especially in the operation known as Veraneio. The population of Pará uses the machines to reduce the police’s response time during incidents where fixed or rotary-wing manned airplanes are not needed. Furthermore, the state of Pará borders French Guiana and Suriname, thus, a Military Police Squad was created for the borders to fulfill their missions with the support of these unmanned drones. (Continues…)